UN panel urges nations to help stop Libyan abuses

Associated Press
Libyan men carry coffins of victims, discovered in a mass grave, at a funeral in Benghazi, Libya, Monday, March 5, 2012. Thousands of mourners gathered Monday in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi to bury 155 bodies unearthed from a mass grave of people were killed during last year's civil war. It was the largest grave yet to be discovered from the conflict that began as a popular uprising and ended with the capture and killing of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi last October.(AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
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GENEVA (AP) — A U.N. expert panel on Friday handed diplomats a confidential list of names of alleged perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Libya.

In its report to the U.N.'s top human rights body, the panel also recommended that countries help Libya's interim government strengthen efforts to stop and punish killing, civilian attacks and other abuses.

Forces loyal to late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and opposition fighters both committed war crimes during the conflict in the Arab country last year, the U.N.-appointed Commission of Inquiry on Libya said in the report to the U.N.'s 47-nation Human Rights Council.

Panel chairman and Canadian judge Philippe Kirsch told reporters in Geneva that it had turned over the names of alleged perpetrators and said some attacks continue by anti-Gadhafi forces.

The council could recommend action to the U.N. Security Council, which could then refer the issue to the International Criminal Court or investigate further.

Kirsch said the panel also recommended more investigation of NATO's air campaign in Libya, which unintentionally killed at least 60 civilians and wounded 55 more.

"We are quite sure that NATO did not deliberately attack any civilians," he said. "We are satisfied that their policy was to avoid civilian casualties."

NATO warplanes flew 18,000 sorties during the 7-month campaign, which ended in October.

In November, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor of the international war crimes tribunal, said his office would examine allegations of crimes committed by all sides in last year's fighting, including NATO. But the prosecutor's statement does not necessarily mean a formal investigation will be opened.

The U.N.-appointed commission concluded that "international crimes, specifically crimes against humanity and war crimes, were committed by Gadhafi forces."

"Acts of murder, enforced disappearance, and torture were perpetrated within the context of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population," it said.

Anti-Gadhafi forces also committed serious violations, "including war crimes and breaches of international human rights law," according to the report.

The panel was appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council on Feb. 25, 2011, to investigate allegations of serious crimes in Libya during and after the conflict.

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