UN rights chief calls for Libya violence probe

AFP , Tuesday 22 Feb 2011

The United Nations calls for an international investigation into violence exercised on Libya's protesters

The UN's human rights chief called Tuesday for an international probe into violence used by Libyan authorities to suppress protests, saying that such "unconscionable" violations must end immediately.

"The callousness with which Libyan authorities and their hired guns are reportedly shooting live rounds of ammunition at peaceful protestors is unconscionable," Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.

"I am extremely worried that lives are being lost even as I speak.

"The international community must unite in condemnation of such acts and make unequivocal commitments to ensure justice is rendered to the thousands of victims of this repression," she said.

Pillay also called for the "immediate cessation of the grave human rights violations committed by Libyan authorities and urged an independent international investigation into the violent suppression of protests in the country," the statement said.

Meanwhile, Italy is to send a C-130 air force jet to Libya Tuesday to evacuate Italian nationals, a foreign ministry official told AFP, as Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa said it was headed to Benghazi.

"The flight will leave in a few hours. We don't know where it will go yet because it depends on the situation on the ground," the official said.

Italian media earlier quoted La Russa as saying: "The C-130 will take off in the morning and bring home today the first Italians from Benghazi."

Italy is not formally advising its citizens to leave the country but said Monday it would begin airlifting Italian nationals who want to get out with special flights being laid on in conjunction with national carrier Alitalia.

"A repatriation plan has been activated.... The objective is to secure the speedy return of our co-nationals," a foreign ministry spokesman told AFP earlier, adding that there were around 1,500 Italians resident in Libya.

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