Tripoli, 16 May:
Russia has renewed its call for a joint UN-NATO inquiry into violations of human rights and civilian deaths in . . .[restrict]Libya.
The call, made by Russian Commissioner for Human Rights Konstantin Dolgov, comes in the wake of a report by Human Rights Watch accusing NATO of failing to investigate 72 accidental civilian deaths it says were caused by NATO airstrikes.
When Russia made a similar call for an investigation in December 2011, it was derided by the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, as “a cheap stunt to divert attention from other issues”. Russia has been accused of using its permanent seat on the UN Security Council to prevent massive human rights violations in Syria, where President Bashar Al Assad is a key Kremlin ally, and Russia is frequently accused of violating the human rights of its own citizens.
However, Dolgov argued in a statement released yesterday that NATO breached the mandate of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 by killing Libyan civilians, and this should be investigated. Resolution 1973 authorised NATO to intervene militarily in Libya for the specific purpose of protecting Libyan civilians.
NATO “did not have a mandate to kill any civilians”, Dolgov said, “…did not have any mandate to bomb schools and hospitals”.
NATO has said that it deeply regrets any civilian deaths caused by its actions in Libya, but emphasised that it only attacked military targets and frequently refrained from launching airstrikes if it thought civilians might be endangered by doing so.
NATO has said that it cannot verify the claims of civilian deaths made by Human Rights Watch as it does not have a mandate to be on the ground in Libya. The organisation has said that it would begin an investigation if requested to do so by the Libyan authorities.