Russia criticises UN over NATO role in Libya

Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:24pm GMT
 

By Emma Farge

GENEVA (Reuters) - Russia criticised U.N. investigators on Friday for failing to adequately probe deaths caused by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) bombs during the uprising against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi last year.

Independent investigators for the U.N. Human Rights Council last week issued a report saying NATO had caused civilian deaths, but added the organisation had taken "extensive precautions to ensure civilians were not killed".

Maria Khodynskaya-Golenishcheva, a diplomat at the Russian mission to the U.N. in Geneva, said that the report omitted civilian deaths caused by NATO air strikes in July and August last year, including children and Libyan journalists.

"The report should have given an adequate assessment of these acts and the members of the commission should have been more insistent on demanding information from NATO," she said in a meeting on the report's findings.

"In our view, during that (NATO) campaign many violations of the standard of international law and human rights were committed, including the most important right, the right to life," she added.

Russia had criticised the U.N. Security Council-authorised military intervention in Libya which it says should have been limited to protecting civilians and not to helping protestors overthrow Gaddafi.

More recently, Moscow has shown support for long-time ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces have cracked down on an uprising inspired by Arab Spring protests in Libya and across the Arab world.

The 200-page U.N. report, which investigatesd violations of international human rights law, refers to a "credible report" that Libyan forces had removed children's bodies from a hospital morgue and took them to the site of a NATO airstrike.

The head of the U.N. commission of inquiry on Libya, Canadian jurist Philippe Kirsch, said NATO did not provide his team with all of the information they requested.

"We know NATO had an enquiry and we asked to be informed of the results and we asked to meet with officials and could not. We asked to be given imagery of attacks and did not receive this," he said in a press conference on Friday.

But the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, praised NATO for disclosing information to the U.N. commission.

"We commend NATO for fully cooperating with the commission and for providing a significant amount of information much of which had to be declassified to assist them in their work," she said.

The U.N. inquiry found that both sides in the Libyan conflict committed war crimes and also alleged that forces loyal to Gaddafi committed crimes against humanity.

It also recommended that the Libyan government further investigate the causes of the death of Gaddafi and human rights violations committed by the former opposition.

The U.N. commission could not make conclusions on the cause of the leader's death in October partly because it was denied access to the autopsy report, it said.

 
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