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Pillay calls for international inquiry into Libyan violence and justice for victims

GENEVA (22 February 2011) – UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Tuesday called for immediate cessation of the grave human rights violations committed by Libyan authorities and urged an independent international investigation into the violent suppression of protests in the country.

“The callousness with which Libyan authorities and their hired guns are reportedly shooting live rounds of ammunition at peaceful protestors is unconscionable. I am extremely worried that lives are being lost even as I speak,” Pillay said.

“The international community must unite in condemnation of such acts and make unequivocal commitments to ensure justice is rendered to the thousands of victims of this repression.”

Citing the reported use of machine guns, snipers and military planes against demonstrators, Pillay said such extremely serious allegations of acts committed in brazen defiance of international law must not go without a full and independent investigation. Accountability was key, she added.

“The state has an obligation to protect the rights to life, liberty and security,” she said.

“Protection of civilians should always be the paramount consideration in maintaining order and the rule of law. The authorities should immediately cease such illegal acts of violence against demonstrators. Widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity. ”

The High Commissioner for Human Rights said the people of Libya had long been victims of the serious excesses of the Libyan leadership and praised their courage in speaking out in the face of such harsh repercussions.

“The Libyan people are tired of corruption, tired of resource wealth benefitting only a few, tired of being unemployed, tired of their rights being ignored,” she said. “They want a say in the Government and a role in the economy and they will not be silenced.”

The High Commissioner said that her Office remained available to offer support and assistance towards investigations into recent events in Libya, as well as towards the promotion and protection of civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights in the country.

“The international community must work together to ensure that the human rights aspirations of the people of Libya are realized” Pillay said.

OHCHR Country Page – Libyan Arab Jamahiriya: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/LYIndex.aspx

Learn more about the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/HighCommissioner.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact OHCHR media officers Ravina Shamdasani on +41 22 917 9310 or rshamdasani@ohchr.org or Xabier Celaya on +41 22 917 9383 or xcelaya@ohchr.org

Watch video OHCHR's statement on Libya. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMmOZYExfLc