Thursday

19th Jul 2018

NGO says Nato under-reported civilian deaths in Libya

Nato has not disclosed the full extent of civilian causalities during its seven-month bombing campaign over Libya last year, says a report released on Monday (14 May) by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The campaigners found evidence that at least 72 people, including 20 women and 24 children, may have been unlawfully killed as Nato-guided missiles struck seven of eight alleged non-military targets.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

  • According to Nato, the compounds were a "staging base and military accommodation" for Gaddafi forces (Photo: Defence Images)

HRW found no evidence of any Libyan military activity at seven of the eight sites they investigated. One high-ranking Libyan officer was believed to be at the eighth site, where seven civilians died.

"Nato took important steps to minimize civilian casualties during the Libya campaign, but information and investigations are needed to explain why 72 civilians died," said Fred Abrahams, special adviser at Human Rights Watch and principal author of the report.

Nato officials argue the eight targets were all military but have not put forward any valid evidence, says HRW. The bombing campaign was mandated by the United Nations Security Council to protect civilians from attacks by security forces of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"Nato did everything possible to minimize risks to civilians, but in a complex military campaign, that risk can never be zero," said Nato spokeswoman Oana Lungescu in a statement.

But 34 people were killed in one incident alone as Nato bombs ripped through two family compounds in the rural village of Majer 160 km east of Tripoli.

A second, GBU-12 laser-guided bomb, landed near the family compounds as relatives and neighbours were retrieving the wounded and dragging away the dead. The GBU-12, which has an infrared system to guide the bomb to its target, killed 18.

According to Nato, the compounds were a "staging base and military accommodation" for Gaddafi forces.

HRW visited the Majer compounds four times, including the day following the raid. The campaigners found one military style t-shirt among the rubble of three houses.

"I’m wondering why they did this; why just our houses?" said Muammar al-Jarud, who lost his mother, sister, wife, and eight-month-old daughter.

"We'd accept it if we had tanks or military vehicles around, but we were completely civilians, and you can't just hit civilians," he told HRW.

While recognizing the Libyan military and locals could have removed evidence of Gadhafi forces at the sites, the report raises many questions over the lawfulness of the strikes says HRW.

The Commission of Inquiry appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, Amnesty International and the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) carried out separate investigations into other civilian causalities.

The Commission of Inquiry and HRW have made repeated requests for Nato on the specific incidents that led to the 72 causalities.

Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States all reportedly dropped ordinance throughout the campaign.

HRW sent letters to all eight states requesting detailed information into the sites under investigation. All referred the NGO back to Nato, except Italy, which did not reply at all.

International humanitarian law oblige governments to investigate allegations of serious violations and compensate victims of unlawful attacks.

"The overall care Nato took in the campaign is undermined by its refusal to examine the dozens of civilian deaths," Abrahams said. "This is needed to provide compensation for victims of wrongful attacks, and to learn from mistakes and minimize civilian casualties in future wars."

Opinion

Nato: Do what you do best

Nato should consider opening up its Partnership for Peace scheme to post-Arab-Spring democracies, writes Jos Boonstra.

Investigation

EU bins security contract, annoys Libya

The EU foreign service has cancelled a €10 million contract with British security firm G4S in a minor diplomatic dispute with Libya.

EU and Japan wave light in Trump's 'darkness'

EU leaders and Japanese prime minister signed a series of agreements, including the EU's biggest trade deal ever, designed as an answer to the disruption of the world order by the US president.

Opinion

EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe

As the rapporteur for the European Parliament on an EU regulation on resettlement, my colleagues and I have outlined an effective plan based on solidarity and humanitarian principles.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson slams 'dithering' May in resignation speech
  2. EU border guards to be sent to Macedonia
  3. Juncker investment plan exceeds target
  4. EU will reply 'tit for tat' to US trade measures
  5. EU Commission registers Brexit citizenship petition
  6. EU launches pre-accession probe for Albania and Macedonia
  7. Google faces multibillion euro EU fine for Android
  8. EU wants more guarantees from VW on Dieselgate fix

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us