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UN urged to suspend Libya's rights council role

(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) - New York, February 25, 2011 - The United Nations General Assembly should immediately suspend Libya's membership rights in the UN Human Rights Council, 63 nongovernmental organizations from around the world said today.

Acting in the face of mounting evidence of large-scale government attacks against protesters, the groups submitted a petition calling on the General Assembly to pass a resolution immediately suspending Libya's membership rights in the council. The Human Rights Council's founding document authorizes a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly to suspend the membership rights of any Council member engaged in "gross and systematic violations of human rights."

"Libya lost any claim to sit at the Human Rights Council once it became clear that Muammar Gaddafi's vow to 'cleanse Libya house by house' was no mere threat," said Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "Suspending Libya is critical for the General Assembly's credibility as well as that of the Human Rights Council."

The petition calls for the General Assembly to follow without delay the lead set by several UN institutions and officials, as well as regional institutions including the League of Arab States and the African Union. On February 22, the UN Security Council "deplored the repression against peaceful demonstrators and expressed deep regret at the deaths of hundreds of civilians."

The League of Arab States on February 22 banned Libyan delegations from participating in all bodies affiliated with the Arab League. The Peace and Security Council of the African Union on February 23 strongly condemned "the indiscriminate and excessive use of force and lethal weapons against peaceful protestors."

While Libyan authorities have prevented human rights organizations and journalists from verifying on the ground the claims of large-scale atrocities, numerous witnesses have reported that hundreds of civilians had been killed by Libyan forces firing "randomly" at protesters. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has denounced "the callousness with which Libyan authorities and their hired guns are reportedly shooting live rounds of ammunition at peaceful protestors" and warned the government that "widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity."

"The General Assembly's ability to suspend Human Rights Council membership rights was tailor-made for a situation like the human rights crisis now under way in Libya," said Jose Luis Diaz, the head of office and representative at the UN for Amnesty International. "Allowing Libya to continue to serve on the Human Rights Council today would be an affront to those suffering in Libya and to human rights defenders across the globe who are demanding Libya's suspension."

Click here for the petition submitted to the UN General Assembly
Human Rights Watch
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Maharat Foundation

Non-IFEX signing organisations

Accountability Watch Committee, Nepal
Advocates for Public Interest Law, Republic of Korea
African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies
African Democracy Forum
Ain o Salish Kendra, Bangladesh
Al Mezan Center for Human rights, Gaza/Palestine
Amnesty International
Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
The Arab Organization for Human Rights, Syria
ARC International
Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Asian Legal Resource Centre
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, Egypt
Association for Human Rights Legal Aid, Egypt
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha, India
Burma Centre Delhi, India
Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee
The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Cambodia
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Center for Egyptian Women's Legal Assistance
Center for Trade Union and Workers' Services, Egypt
Centre for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, Argentina
Chin Human Rights Organization, Thailand
Chin National Front, India
Christian Development Alternative, Bangladesh
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Indonesia
Committees for the Defense of Democracy Freedom and Human Rights, Syria
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies
Democracy Coalition Project, United States
DEMOS, Indonesia
Dignity International
Droits Humains Sans Frontières, Democratic Republic of Congo
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
Egyptian Association for Enhancing Community Participation
Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
El Nadim Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims, Egypt
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network
Ezra Ministries of Tanzania, Tanzania/Democratic Republic of Congo
Fahamu Refugee Programme, United Kingdom
Health Equity Initiatives, Malaysia
Hisham Mubarak Law Center, Egypt
HRWG - Indonesia's NGO Coalition for International Human Rights advocacy
Human Rights Defenders' Alert, India
Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, Thailand
Human Rights First Society, Saudi Arabia
Human Rights Now, Japan
Human Rights Organization in Syria - MAF
The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (IMPARSIAL)
INFORM Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka
INHURED International, Nepal
International Commission of Jurists
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
International Service for Human Rights
The Iraqi Human Rights Association in Denmark
Journalist for Human Rights, Sudan
Judicial System Monitoring Programme, Timor Leste
Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Association, Cambodia
Korean House for International Solidarity, Republic of Korea
Korean Public Interest Lawyers Group (GONGGAM), Republic of Korea
Kurdish Committee for Human Rights in Syria
Kurdish Organization for the Defense of Human Rights and Public Freedoms in Syria
Luta Hamutuk Institute, Timor Leste
MARUAH - Working Group for ASEAN Human Rights Mechanisms, Singapore
Migrant Forum in Asia
National Commission for Justice and Peace, Pakistan
National Council of Liberties, Tunisia
New Woman Foundation, Egypt
The New Zealand National Refugee Network
Odhikar, Bangladesh
Open Society Foundations
Palestinian Human Rights Organization, Lebanon
Partners for Law in Development, India
Pax Romana - International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs
Pax Romana - International Movement of Catholic Students
People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Republic of Korea
People's Watch, India
The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, India
South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia
Thai Committee for Refugees
Think Centre, Singapore
West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network
World Forum for Democratization in Asia
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

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