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International Commission of Inquiry investigating Human Rights violations in Libya ends field visits to Egypt, Libya and Tunisia

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Human Rights Council
3 May 2011

The International Commission of Inquiry* established by the Human Rights Council to investigate alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya concluded its field visits to Egypt, Libya and Tunisia on 29 April.

During the course of the three-week visit, the Commission held meetings with a broad cross-section of stakeholders, including government officials, non-governmental organizations, and United Nations agencies and bodies.

The Commission also conducted interviews with victims and witnesses, medical and other professionals, legal and military experts, authorities and other sources of reliable information relevant to its mandate, within and outside Libya, including in camps and locations located along the Egyptian and Tunisian border areas with Libya such as Salloum in Egypt, and Ras Ajdir and Tataouine in Tunisia.

While in Libya, the Commission visited Tripoli, Zawiya, Benghazi, Tobruk and Bayda and benefitted from the cooperation of all parties concerned, representatives from the Government of Libya as well as representatives of the National Transitional Council. It has also visited the sites of incidents, hospitals and detention centres.

In Benghazi, the Commission visited the Benghazi Medical Centre as well as Al Jalaa Hospital and interviewed over 30 injured/wounded patients. It also visited the Benghazi Detention Centre and interviewed over 20 detainees out of 76, including soldiers from the Libyan army and alleged mercenaries. The Commission reminded the authorities of the need to treat all detainees in accordance with international standards.

In Tripoli, the Commission discussed the fate of a number of journalists currently detained and shared with the authorities a list containing 18 specific names asking for their whereabouts. It also brought to their attention the situation of 86 detainees currently held in El Jdaida Detention Centre in relation to the events which took place in February and March 2011. The Commission interviewed a number of them and has also asked for their release on humanitarian grounds. The authorities promised to look into that matter with a view to releasing them in the coming days. Finally, the Commission also raised the case of Ms. Iman al-Obeidi requesting that she be given permission to leave the country.

The Commission is currently reviewing the reports of the interviews gathered during the mission and reports produced by various organizations and institutions as well as submissions on matters of fact and law relevant to its inquiry.

The report of the Commission will be submitted to the Human Rights Council at its next session in June 2011.

(*)The Members of the Commission of Inquiry are:

Cherif Bassiouni (Egypt) served as Chair of the Commission. Professor Emeritus of Law at DePaul University, Chicago, he is a United Nations war crimes expert. He has served the United Nations in a number of capacities, including as co-chair of the Committee of Experts to draft the Convention on the Prevention and Suppression of Torture (1977); chairman of the Security Council's Commission to Investigate War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia (1992-1994); vice-chairman of the General Assembly's Ad Hoc and Preparatory Committees on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court (1995 and 1998); chairman of the Drafting Committee of the 1998 Diplomatic Conference on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court; independent expert for the Commission on Human Rights on The Rights to Restitution, Compensation and Rehabilitation for Victims of Grave Violations of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1998-2000); and independent expert for the Commission on Human Rights on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan (2004-2006).

Asma Khader (Jordan) is a lawyer by training. She is also well known as a human rights advocate. She founded Mizan Law Group for Human Rights in Jordan, the Jordanian branch of the International Commission of Jurists, in 1998, and she serves on the executive committee of the International Commission of Jurists. She has worked on many international commissions and civil rights organizations; she was a founding member of the Arab Association for Human Rights, a member of the Royal Jordanian Committee for Human Rights; and president of the Jordanian Women’s Union from 1992 until 1996. In 1998 she founded Sisterhood Is Global Institute/Jordan, an international organization to help women in the Muslim world learn technology and access information. In October 2003, she was appointed a minister without portfolio and spokesperson for the Jordanian government. Khader served as minister in 2003 and 2004, then as minister of culture in 2004 and 2005. Her tenure as government spokesperson lasted from 2003 to 2005.

Philippe Kirsch (Canada) is a Canadian lawyer who served as a judge of the International Criminal Court from 2003 to 2009 and was the court's first president. He had been extensively involved in the establishment of the Court, as chairman of the Committee of the Whole of the 1998 Rome Conference and subsequently of the ICC Preparatory Commission. Kirsch is member of the Bar of the Province of Quebec and was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1988. He has extensive experience in public international law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Kirsch served as Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the International Conference on the Problem of War Victims (1993) and Chairman of the Drafting Committee at the 26th and 27th International Conferences of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent (1995, 1999). He was Chairman of the Canadian National Committee on Humanitarian Law (1998 - 1999) and member of the Group of International Advisers to the International Committee of the Red Cross (2000 - 2003). He chaired proceedings in the development of a number of treaty-making instruments against various acts of terrorism such as suppression of unlawful acts against the safety of maritime navigation; unlawful acts of violence at airports serving international civil aviation; terrorist bombings, financing of terrorism, as well as a Convention for the safety and security of UN and associated personnel."

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