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Jun 02, 2011 at 11:17am IST

Libya: UN accuses both sides of war crimes

United Nations: A UN panel investigating the conflict in Libya has accused both Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime and opposition forces of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in their 15-week fight.

Libyan government forces that are pitted against pro-democracy activists who have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to a three member panel appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The panel also said that the rebel forces had committed acts that could also constituted war crimes. The International Commission of Inquiry completed its investigation into alleged human rights violations and submitted its report to the Council on Wednesday.

Libya: UN accuses both sides of war crimes

The UN panel said that the rebel forces had committed acts that could also constituted war crimes.

The panel writes that "in the present report, the commission identifies a number of violations that have led it to the conclusion that international crimes, and specifically crimes against humanity and war crimes, have been committed," in Libya.

"The commission has found that there have been acts constituting murder, imprisonment, other forms of severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance and sexual abuse that were committed by Government forces as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population with knowledge of the attack."

The panel said that these acts constitute crimes against humanity in a conflict it estimates has killed between 10,000-15,000 people.

The UN said that the commission met with over 350 people during its field missions, including with 113 doctors and other medical staff, patients and members of their families in ten hospitals.

It also met with 30 people detained in two locations in the country (Tripoli and Benghazi) and with 148 people displaced either within the Libya or in transit points or refugee camps outside it.

The panel it found fewer reports of violations by the opposition.

"The commission received fewer reports of facts which would amount to the commission of international crimes by opposition forces; however, it did find some acts which would constitute war crimes," it said.

The panel called on the Libyan government to immediately cease acts of violence against civilians and recommended it to "conduct exhaustive, impartial and transparent investigations into all alleged violations."

The panel also called on the National Transitional Council, the group representing the opposition, to conduct similar investigations into alleged human rights violations.

The panel includes Cherif Bassiouni from Egypt, who served as Chair of the Commission and is Professor Emeritus of Law at DePaul University, Chicago.

Asma Kader from Jordan is a lawyer and a well-know human rights advocate. Philippe Kirsch 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.

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