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UN rights boss demands action to halt Libya crimes

Navi Pillay denounces atrocities, calls for action.


February 25, 2011 12:25 by

The United Nations human rights chief on Friday denounced mass killings by Libyan forces using tanks and helicopters and called on the international community to stop the bloodshed.

Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said thousands of people may have been killed or injured in the mounting violence against anti-government protesters, many by shots to the head or chest.

She was addressing an emergency session of the U.N. Human Rights Council convened in Geneva to examine the grave situation in the North African country, whose leader Muammar Gaddafi is clinging to power.

“In brazen and continuing breach of international law, the crackdown in Libya on peaceful demonstrations is escalating alarmingly with reported mass killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of protesters,” Pillay told the forum.

“Tanks, helicopters and military aircraft have reportedly been used indiscriminately to attack the protesters,” she said.

Western powers including the United States and France are pushing to have Libya’s membership of the 47-member state forum put under challenge at the special session.

But Arab and African states are expected to resist the call at the one-day session, fearing it will set a precedent, according to diplomats.

No Libyan delegation was present at the talks, a Reuters correspondent said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Robert Evans; editing by Tim Pearce)


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