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Briefing note on Libya

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Subject: Libya

The death of Muammar Gaddafi and the fall of Sirte and Bani Walid bring an end to eight months of extreme violence and suffering for the Libyan people. A new era is now beginning in Libya, which should respond to the aspirations of the people for democracy and human rights. For this to become a reality, human rights must be the cornerstone of all policies and actions, and people must have the chance to have a real say in determining the future of their country.

A key aspect enabling closure on the legacy of Gaddafi's 42-year despotic rule, and on the bloody conflict this year, will be to ensure that justice is done. The thousands of victims who suffered loss of life, disappearance, torture and other serious human rights violations since the conflict broke out in February 2011, as well as those who suffered human rights violations throughout Gaddafi’s long rule, have the right to know the truth, to see the culture of impunity brought to an end, and to receive reparations.

In order to turn the page on the legacy of decades of systematic violations of human rights, it will be essential for alleged perpetrators to be brought before trials, which adhere to international standards for fair trial, and for victims to see that accountability has been achieved.

On the issue of Gaddafi’s death yesterday, the circumstances are unclear -- there seem to be four or five different versions of how he died. As you are aware, there are at least two cell-phone videos, one showing him alive and one showing him dead. Taken together, these videos are very disturbing. We believe there is a need for an investigation and more details are needed to ascertain whether he was killed in the fighting or after his capture.

Follow-up questions on what type of investigation would be necessary:

There is already an independent Commission of Inquiry for Libya, set up by the Human Rights Council, which is very likely to look into this. Other forms of investigation might also be considered.

I would also like to refer to a couple of key elements of the Secretary-General's statement on Libya yesterday: He said "Combatants on all sides must lay down their arms in peace." And he went on to say "This is the time for healing and rebuilding, for generosity of spirit, not for revenge." Obviously we fully agree with those very important points.

For more information or media requests, please contact spokesperson Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or press officers Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) and Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org).

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