Friday, 21 October 2011

UN Human Rights Council Calls for Investigation of Gadhafi's Death

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While some are still questioning the validity of yesterday's breaking news of the killing of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, the United Nations Human Rights Council has accepted it as a reality and is now calling for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death. Questions are focusing on what occurred in the interim between Gadhafi's capture and his death — and exactly how he died.

“We believe there is a need for an investigation,” said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “More details are needed to ascertain whether he was killed in some form of fighting or was executed after his capture.... There seem to be four or five different versions of how he died.”

After Gadhafi was captured, he was placed on the hood of a pickup truck and paraded around in victory, while onlookers shouted, “We want him alive. We want him alive.” Shortly afterward, Gadhafi was removed from the hood and pulled by his hair toward an ambulance.

Later video footage, however, showed Gadhafi lying dead on the pavement, stripped to the waist, with a pool of blood under his head. His body was paraded through Misrata, prompting cheers from the crowd.

“The two cell phone videos that have emerged, one of him alive, and one of him dead, taken together are very disturbing,” Colville told reporters.

According to Libyan leaders, Gadhafi was caught in a crossfire, though it was unclear who fired the bullet that killed him. “It seems like the bullet was a stray and it could have come from the revolutionaries or the loyalists. The problem is everyone in the event is giving his own story,” said Libyan Information Minister Mahmoud Shamman, who added that a coroner’s report shows that Gadhafi was shot in the head and died enroute to the hospital.

Gadhafi’s burial is being delayed because his body will be examined by the International Criminal Court. USA Today writes,

The transitional leadership had said it would bury the dictator Friday in accordance with Islamic tradition. Bloody images of Gadhafi's last moments, however, have raised questions over how exactly he died after he was captured wounded, but alive.

Gadhafi, as well as his son Seif al-Islam and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi, were charged with crimes against humanity for the regime’s crackdown on opposition as the uprisings against the regime were escalating into civil war.

A senior member of the governing National Transitional Council announced that representatives from the International Criminal Court will be coming to “go through paperwork.” The ICC has not yet issued a statement regarding Gadhafi’s death, waiting on confirmation of such things as DNA samples, as well as the fact that Gadhafi is indeed dead.

Colville told the Associated Press, “The dust hasn’t settled yet. You can’t just chuck the law out of the window. Killing someone outside a judicial procedure, even in countries where there is the death penalty, is outside the rule of law.”

According to Colville, it would be beneficial for the victims of Gadhafi’s reign to see judicial procedures followed and all perpetrators of abuse brought to trial, calling it a “cathartic” process for the new Libya. “Of course there are many others apart from Col. Gadhafi, so there may at least be some kind of court proceedings where we do all learn what happened and who is responsible,” he commented.

Reuters reports that the wife of Gadhafi had asked the United Nations to investigate the death of her husband.

Likewise, Amnesty International has called for a similar investigation, urging the Libyan National Transitional Council “to make public” all the facts surrounding his death, and “to ensure that all those suspected of human rights abuses and war crimes” receive humane treatment if captured and are provided with fair trials.

Human Rights Watch is demanding an internationally supervised autopsy as well as a probe into Gadhafi's death. Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director for the organization, stated, “When he [Gadhafi] left the area he was very much alive. There’s no reason why he should have been subjected to this kind of mob justice.”

The UN Human Rights Council had already launched an investigation earlier in the year to examine human rights abuses in Libya.

There ironies upon ironies in this drama. First is the fact that an international body is telling a sovereign nation how to treat captured warring parties when the international group that took a hand in deposing Gadhafi is reportedly responsible for numerous deaths of innocent civilians in the conflict. Second is the fact that the ICC imagines that either the Libyan people or its government would treat as a criminal the person who killed Gadhafi, when the government itself has been accused of standing aside to allow the slaughter of blacks in the nation (without apparent repercussions from the international community), and the international body reportedly bombed a convoy of cars as they were fleeing the fighting to capture Gadhafi in the first place. Third, short of attacking the new regime, the international body would be helpless to apply any penalties to the guilty party, and a new attack would mean more innocent people killed and overthrowing the international body's new "friends." Fourth, the fact that in this case the ICC is charging right in, but when China's leaders chop up members of the Falun Gong and sell their body parts to other Asian countries, and Russia's leaders stand accused of killing former Russian Alexander Litvinenko, the ICC and the human rights council is silent as a ghost.

The ironies go on, but the "investigation" is just that much more proof that the ICC and its UN functionaries are largely irrelevant and, as Dirty Harry might say, "a legend in their own minds."

Photo of man allegedly Moammar Gadhafi: AP images

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