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Amnesty hits out at NATO failure to investigate Libyan deaths

Amnesty International has said that NATO failed to investigate the killing of scores of civiilans in Libyan airstrikes carried out by its forces.

A site the Libyan government was hit by a NATO airstrike last year.
A site the Libyan government was hit by a NATO airstrike last year.
Image: Ivan Sekretarev/AP/Press Association Images

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL HAS criticised NATO, which it says failed to investigate the killing of scores of civilians in Libya in airstrikes carried out by its forces.

It made the comments in a new briefing paper released a year after the first strike sorties took place. Libya: The forgotten victims of NATO Strikes says that scores of Libyan civilians who were not involved in the fighting were killed and many more injured, most in their homes, as a result of NATO airstrikes.

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said:

More than four months since the end of the military campaign, victims and relatives of those killed by NATO remain in the dark about what happened and who was responsible. NATO officials repeatedly stressed their commitment to protecting civilians. They cannot now brush aside the deaths of scores of civilians with some vague statement of regret without properly investigating these deadly incidents.

Amnesty said that NATO appears to have “made significant efforts to minimise the risk of causing civilian casualties”, but “this does not absolve NATO from adequately investigating the strikes” and providing reparation to the victims and their families.

Investigations must look into whether civilian casualties resulted from violations of international law and if so those responsible must be brought to justice.

The organisation has documented 55 cases of named civilians, including 16 children and 14 women, killed in airstrikes in Tripoli, Zlitan, Majer, Sirte and Brega. It said many of the deaths occurred as a result of airstrikes on private homes where no evidence has been found by them to indicate that the homes had been used for military purposes at the time they were attacked.

In its latest response to Amnesty International, on 13 March, NATO stated that it “deeply regrets any harm that may have been caused by those air strikes”.

It added that it “has had no mandate to conduct any activities in Libya following OUP’s (Operation Unified Protector) termination on 31 October 2011” and that the “primary responsibility” for investigating rests with the Libyan authorities.

Amnesty stated:

NATO must ensure that prompt, independent, impartial and thorough investigations are conducted into any allegations of serious violations of international law by participants in Operation Unified Protector and that the findings be publicly disclosed. Wherever there is sufficient admissible evidence, suspects should be prosecuted.

Read: Eastern Libya declares semi-autonomous region>

Read: Armed militias in Libya are ‘out of control’, one year after uprising>

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