Tag Archive: The U.N. Security Council


Int’l court to seek Libya arrest warrants

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110513/ap_on_re_eu/eu_international_court_libya

By MIKE CORDER, Associated Press Mike Corder, Associated Press 1 hr 37 mins ago

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – An international prosecutor said Friday he will seek arrest warrants next week for three top Libyan leaders on charges of murder and persecution during their attempts to crush the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, did not release the names of the suspects, but Gadhafi himself is expected to be among them.

Moreno-Ocampo revealed broad details of his investigation last week to the U.N. Security Council, but the announcement was the first time the court specified the charges — murder and persecution, considered crimes against humanity under the Geneva Conventions.

Prosecutors say their investigation has identified “three individuals who appear to bear the greatest responsibility for crimes against humanity” committed in Libya since Feb. 15, when Gadhafi’s forces began a brutal crackdown on anti-government rebels.

A panel of judges will review the prosecutor’s evidence before deciding whether to issue the warrants. It is not clear how long the judges will take before reaching a decision.

A prosecution statement charged that Libyan security forces “conducted widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population.”

The announcement came as NATO launched more airstrikes in Tripoli and Gadhafi’s protesters and soldiers engaged in gun battles in several of the capital’s neighborhoods.

On Thursday, Gadhafi’s fortified compound in the capital was among the targets hit by NATO aircraft and missiles.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on Feb. 26 to refer the Libyan crisis to the international court in The Hague, and Moreno-Ocampo launched a formal investigation just days later.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Thursday said he expected the ICC to ask for Gadhafi’s arrest, which would complicate any suggestion of the Libyan leader accepting exile as a way to end the conflict in his country.

Investigators have collected “extensive and solid evidence” during 30 missions to 11 countries and have interviewed more than 50 witnesses, including “key insiders,” as well as reviewing videos, photographs and other evidence, the prosecutors’ statement said.

They hailed the court for acting in what they called “real time” to prosecute crimes, unlike the international community’s response in other deadly conflicts in the past.

“There was no ICC when the Rwanda genocide happened and the Darfur situation was referred to the ICC two years after the beginning of the crimes against the civilian population,” the statement said.

Because the case was sent to the court by the Security Council, Gadhafi will become an internationally wanted suspect if he is indicted and all United Nations member states will be under an obligation to arrest him.

However, that does not guarantee he will be detained if he ventures outside Libya. The court’s judges have reported three countries to the Security Council for allowing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to visit without arresting him. Al-Bashir has been indicted for crimes including genocide in Darfur in another case ordered by the Security Council.

The court has no police force of its own to arrest suspects.

Prosecutors said they also have uncovered evidence of war crimes, including rape and attacks on “sub-Saharan Africans wrongly perceived to be mercenaries.”

Prosecutors said they expect more details about such crimes in a report due to be published June 7 by a U.N. Commission of Inquiry probing allegations of human rights violations during the Libyan uprising.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110506/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_libya

By KARIN LAUB, Associated Press Karin Laub, Associated Press 21 mins ago

TRIPOLI, Libya – Moammar Gadhafi’s forces may have committed war crimes in the rebel-held city of Misrata and the humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating because of regime attempts to tighten its siege and block access by sea, Amnesty International said Friday.

Libyan troops have indiscriminately fired heavy artillery, rockets and cluster bombs at residential areas of Libya’s third-largest city during a two-month siege, in a clear breach of international humanitarian law, the group said in a report.

“Weapons designed for the battle field and not for residential areas are being launched into residential neighborhoods, killing civilians and really just creating a situation of terror,” said Amnesty’s Donatella Rovera.

Earlier this week, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court told the U.N. Security Council he would seek arrest warrants against three Libyans for crimes against humanity committed in Libya. He did not name the suspects.

Misrata is the main rebel stronghold in western Libya, a region still largely under Gadhafi’s control, while the rebels hold positions in the east of the country.

Libyan troops besieging the city of 300,000 by land recently stepped up shelling of Misrata’s port to close the remaining lifeline. Hundreds of people have been killed in Misrata since February, medics say.

On Wednesday, government forces shelled Misrata’s port area as an aid vessel docked to evacuate hundreds of stranded migrant workers. The shells killed two toddlers and their aunt and uncle, all from Niger, as they waited for evacuation in a nearby tent camp.

The humanitarian situation has deteriorated sharply in recent days because the attempted port blockade has made it even more difficult to bring in supplies, said Rovera. She said there is no electricity or running water in large parts of the city, and food supplies are dwindling.

Government officials deny wrongdoing by Libyan troops, including shelling of civilian areas. Libya’s deputy foreign minister, Khaled Kaim, said Thursday that the military has decided to block ships from reaching Misrata, but would not discuss the tactics by regime loyalists, such as last week’s mining of Misrata harbor or Wednesday’s shelling.

“We will not allow those ships to bring arms to the city and then evacuate some criminals,” Kaim said. The government claimed that aid ships would be allowed to pass if they coordinate with the regime.

The fate of Misrata is of strategic importance in the battle for Libya. Unless his forces retake the city, Gadhafi cannot attempt to partition the country, perhaps his only option for remaining in power in some areas of Libya.

For much of the past two months, Gadhafi’s troops in tanks were deployed along parts of a downtown thoroughfare, Tripoli Street, while snipers took over high buildings. Late last month, rebel fighters drove regime loyalists to the outskirts of Misrata from where they’ve continued daily shelling attacks.

Amnesty said scores of Misrata residents not involved in fighting have been killed and hundreds injured by indiscriminate attacks, including with 122mm Grad rockets and 155mm artillery shells.

The report cited an April 14 attack in which rockets hit the Qasr Ahmed neighborhood, killing 12 residents, among them several who were waiting in line outside a bakery.

A day later, the research team found evidence of the use of cluster bombs which pose particular risk to civilians because they scatter small bomblets over a wide area. The group also said snipers targeted residents in areas under control of opposition fighters. Many residents were trapped near the front lines for weeks, the group said.

In another development Friday, France ordered 14 Libyan embassy employees to leave within 48 hours. They had worked for Libya’s embassy in Paris before it was shut about a month ago. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero would not say what the diplomats had done to merit expulsion.

France has recognized Libya’s opposition movement, and has been a major backer of a NATO-led military mission intended to protect civilians from an onslaught by Gadhafi’s forces.

On Thursday, members from the 22-nation Contact Group on Libya agreed to set up an internationally monitored fund that the rebels can access to provide basic services to the Libyan people. Countries have already pledged $250 million.

The United States said it would move to free up at least some of the more than $30 billion it has frozen in Libyan assets. Kaim, the Libyan government official, said the international community has no right to divert frozen Libyan assets, which total about $120 billion. “Any use of the frozen assets is like piracy on the high seas,” he said.

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Associated Press reporter Martin DiCaro contributed reporting.

Syria’s Assad facing dissent over Deraa crackdown

Protesters are seen holding placards during a demonstration in Douma townhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110428/wl_nm/us_syria

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis Khaled Yacoub Oweis 35 mins ago

AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad faced rare dissent within his Baath Party and signs of discontent in the army over violent repression of protesters that a rights group said on Thursday had killed 500 people.

Two hundred members of the ruling party from southern Syria resigned on Wednesday after the government sent in tanks to crush resistance in the city of Deraa, where a six-week-old uprising against Assad’s authoritarian rule erupted.

Diplomats said signs were also emerging of differences within the army where the majority of troops are Sunni Muslims, but most officers belong to Assad’s minority Alawite sect.

The Baath Party says it has more than a million members in Syria, making Wednesday’s resignations more a symbolic than a real challenge to Assad’s 11-year rule.

But along with the resignations last week of two Deraa parliamentarians, they would have been unthinkable before nationwide pro-democracy demonstrations flared last month.

Syria’s banned Muslim Brotherhood called on Syrians to take to the streets to demand freedom ahead of the main Friday prayers, while the Interior Ministry said citizens must not demonstrate without a license in order to protect “the security stability of the homeland.”

In a declaration sent to Reuters, the Brotherhood said: “Do not let the regime besiege your compatriots. Chant with one voice for freedom and dignity. Do not allow the tyrant to enslave you. God is great.”

It was the first time that the Brotherhood, whose leadership is in exile, had called directly for demonstrations in Syria since pro-democracy demonstrations against Assad’s autocratic rule erupted six weeks ago.

Criticism of Assad has intensified since 100 people were killed in protests last week and tanks rolled into Deraa. The United States says it is considering tightening sanctions and European governments will discuss Syria on Friday.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd called on Thursday for international sanctions on Syria over the crackdown and said the United Nations should send a special envoy to investigate the killings.

But a European push for the U.N. Security Council to condemn the crackdown was blocked by Russia, China and Lebanon. China said on Thursday that Damascus should resolve its problems through talks, while Russia said Syrian authorities should bring to justice those responsible for the killings.

One diplomat said soldiers had confronted secret police at least once this month to stop them shooting at protesters.

“No one is saying that Assad is about to lose control of the army, but once you start using the army to slaughter your own people, it is a sign of weakness,” he said.

“The largest funerals in Syria so far have been for soldiers who have refused to obey orders to shoot protesters and were summarily executed on the spot,” another diplomat said.

The upheaval could have major regional repercussions since Syria straddles the fault lines of the Middle East conflict.

Assad has bolstered an anti-Israel alliance with Shi’ite Iran and both countries back the Hezbollah and Hamas militant groups, although Syria still seeks peace with the Jewish state.

CLASH NEAR LEBANON BORDER

Syria has blamed armed Islamist groups for the killings and accused politicians in neighboring Lebanon of fomenting violence, allegations they have denied.

Around 1,500 Syrian women and children crossed into northern Lebanon on Thursday, witnesses said, fleeing gunfire in the Syrian border town of Tel Kelakh. It was not clear how many people were hurt in the clash but Lebanese security sources said the army had stepped up patrols in the area.

Assad sent the ultra-loyal Fourth Mechanized Division, commanded by his brother Maher, into Deraa on Monday.

Reports from opposition figures and Deraa residents, which could not be confirmed, said that several soldiers from another unit had refused to fire on civilians.

The official state news agency denied the reports.

Gunfire was heard in Deraa on Wednesday night. Water, electricity and communications remained cut and essential supplies were running low, residents said.

Rights campaigners reported shooting and arrests on Thursday in Zabadani, about 35 km (20 miles) southwest of Damascus.

The Syrian rights group Sawasiah said the death toll in six weeks of protests had risen to at least 500.

“We call on civilized governments to take action to stop the bloodbath in Syria and to rein in the Syrian regime and halt its murders, torture, sieges and arrests. We have the names of at least 500 confirmed killed,” Sawasiah said in a statement. “The shelling of Deraa is a crime against humanity.”

Turkey’s intelligence chief met Assad on Thursday as part of a delegation sent to Damascus to suggest reforms to help end the uprising. Assad lifted Syria’s 48-year state of emergency a week ago, but opposition figures said the death of 100 people in protests the next day made a mockery of his move.

Syria has been dominated by the Assad family since Bashar’s father, the late President Hafez al-Assad, took power in a 1970 coup. The younger Assad kept intact the autocratic political system he inherited in 2000 while the family expanded its control over the country’s struggling economy.

Assad’s decision to storm Deraa echoed his father’s 1982 attack on the city of Hama to crush a revolt led by the Muslim Brotherhood, killing anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 people.

(Additional reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi, Writing by Dominic Evans, Editing by Jon Boyle)

Yemeni police open fire on protesters, killing 3

Anti-government protestors shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa,Yemen, Mondahttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110419/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_yemen

By AHMED AL-HAJ, Associated Press Ahmed Al-haj, Associated Press 27 mins ago

SANAA, Yemen – Yemeni security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters Tuesday, killing at least three amid rising international concern over the strategically located nation.

The United Nations Security Council met late Tuesday to discuss the deteriorating situation in Yemen, where rights groups say two months of protests calling for the president to step down have claimed 120 lives.

A Yemeni government delegation also headed to nearby Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, for talks with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council over a proposal for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to transfer power to his deputy to end the crisis. The opposition held similar talks in Saudi Arabia Sunday.

The country’s opposition, inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, says nothing short of Saleh’s immediate departure would end the unrest.

Strategically located at the mouth of the Red Sea across from lawless Somalia, Yemen is wracked by rebellions, water and food shortages and hosts a deadly local affiliate of the militant al-Qaida network.

Tens of thousands took to the streets in the capital Sanaa and thousands demonstrated in Aden, Ibb, al-Hudaydah, Taiz and other cities where most of the shops were closed in support of the protesters.

The Sanaa protest turned violent when security forces opened fire, lobbed tear gas canisters, and stun grenades at the protesters as they tried to make their way to the capital’s main thoroughfare. The protesters replied by throwing stones.

A medical official and an eyewitness said at least two protesters were killed, and five were in serious condition. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Khaled al-Ansi, a protest organizer, said around 60 were injured by bullets or sharp objects. A number of those injured were policemen who joined the protesters, witnesses said.

An ambulance accompanying the protesters, carrying four female doctors, was seized by security forces and was taken away. Al-Ansi threatened that if the ambulance and the doctors are not released, the protesters would storm the riot police’s headquarters.

Thousands of protesters also marched in the southern city of Taiz, a hotbed of anti-government activism, demanding the president’s resignation when security forces opened fire.

The director of a city field hospital, Dr. Sadeq al-Shuja, said at least one was killed in the crackdown. Protesters also gathered outside a security office, where seven of their colleagues have been detained, demanding their release.

Four other protesters were killed in demonstrations in Taiz earlier this month.

The U.N. Security Council met behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss the situation in Yemen for the first time, a sign of growing global concern about the situation. Council diplomats said the briefing, by U.N. political chief B. Lynn Pascoe, was requested by the GCC.

“We are very concerned about the situation in Yemen,” German Ambassador Peter Wittig said as he headed into the meeting. Wittig said the council’s discussion “sends out a good signal” and “supports the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council to alleviate the tensions and find a solution to the Yemeni crisis.”

The New York-based Human Rights Watch welcomed the U.N.’s interest in Yemen and called on it to urge Saleh to stop the killings of peaceful protesters.

“Yemen’s brutal repression of opposition activists over the last few weeks finally landed on the radar of the Security Council, which clearly sees the issue as a threat to international peace and security,” said Philippe Bolopion, U.N. director for Human Rights Watch.

The U.N. children’s fund said Tuesday that at least 26 children have been killed during the protests over the last two months. Most died of wounds from live ammunition during clashes between security forces and anti-government demonstrators, said UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world, and protesters are calling for steps to improve livelihoods and open up the country’s restricted political life. The protests are the biggest direct challenge to Saleh’s three-decades in power. His weak government has little control beyond the capital and has struggled to confront an armed rebellion in the north and a secessionist movement in the south.

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Associated Press writer Anita Snow contributed to this report from the U.N.

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