United Nations A/hrc/19/68

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1. Introduction

71. In its first report, the Commission indicated that in relation to attacks on civilians, civilian objects, protected persons and objects, it has “not had access to full information allowing it to definitively evaluate allegations of these violations of international humanitarian law”. As part of its continuing investigations, the Commission subsequently conducted over 75 interviews looking at this issue and inspected destruction in towns across Libya.

2. Qadhafi forces

72. The Commission visited a number of areas affected by the fighting including Misrata, Al Zawiyah, Nalut, Yafran, Zintan and Sirte. The Commission found that Qadhafi forces used inherently indiscriminate weapons, as well as weapons prohibited by many nations, including landmines and cluster bombs, causing considerable suffering to the civilian population and damage to civilian objects.

73. The city of Misrata endured some of the most protracted fighting during the conflict. Misrata was under siege for over three months, between March and May 2011 when Qadhafi forces retreated from the centre of town. Indiscriminate shelling of the city continued sporadically until August 2011. Unlike other areas, where the civilian population was evacuated, civilians were trapped inside the city. Its port, which provided the only means of evacuation of war-wounded and civilians as well as entry of humanitarian aid, was also targeted by Qadhafi forces. Senior Qadhafi military officers interviewed by the Commission confirmed that there were several attempts, some of them successful, to mine the Misrata port. The Commission found remains of Chinese-manufactured Type-84 rocket-dispensed scatterable anti-tank mines and their rockets at the port.

74. In surveying the damage to the city, the Commission’s military expert noted that the damage to buildings was consistent with the use of small arms (7.62x39mm and other), heavy machine guns (12.7mm and 14.5mm), anti-aircraft guns (23mm), tube and rocket artillery, large calibre weapons (HEAT - “high-explosive anti-tank” tank rounds and HESH - “high explosive squash head” tank rounds), mortars (various from 60-120mm), rockets (122mm Grad entry holes were found with the rear of the rockets still protruding from ground), RPGs and recoilless rifles

75. Qadhafi forces launched a military assault on Al Zawiyah after it fell to the opposition in late February 2011. Those interviewed by the Commission, including a former senior security official, stated that Qadhafi forces fired Grad rockets and mortars into Al Zawiyah. They also used tanks, rocket launchers and 14.5mm anti-aircraft guns.

76. Opposition-held towns in the Nafusa Mountains also sustained heavy shelling from Qadhafi forces. The majority of the civilian population evacuated, with the exception of Zintan, where at least 55 civilian casualties, including women and children, were reported. The most extensive damage was observed in Yafran, which was occupied by Qadhafi forces between 18 April and the first week of June 2011.

77. The Commission received numerous allegations of attacks on hospitals, medical personnel and ambulances, including in Al Zawiyah, Misrata, Tripoli and Yafran. Medical personnel treating thuwar were subject to killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions accompanied with torture, ill-treatment and harassment; ambulances were reportedly shot at by Qadhafi forces several times during the course of the conflict and were misused to transport armed soldiers. Hospitals were shelled, medical supplies restricted, and wounded demonstrators and thuwar reportedly denied medical treatment.

78. The Commission investigated reports of Qadhafi forces deliberately targeting places of worship, including the mosque on the central square in Al Zawiyah. The Commission found that in some instances civilian buildings including mosques were inappropriately used for military purposes by the thuwar, and could therefore be considered lawful targets.

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