United Nations A/hrc/19/68

III. The Commission’s findings

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III. The Commission’s findings

A. Excessive use of force 1

1. Introduction
15. In its first report, the Commission concluded that Qadhafi forces used excessive force against demonstrators in February 2011. The Commission subsequently conducted over 60 interviews looking at this issue.

2. Qadhafi forces

16. The Commission interviewed medical personnel on duty during the protests. Testimony, medical records, and photographs received show predominantly head and chest wounds, in some cases consistent with the use of high-calibre weapons. It also received a videotape of a purported senior regime figure giving instructions to “crush” demonstrators in Benghazi and received a first-hand account of orders from Colonel Qadhafi to suppress demonstrations “with all means necessary”. While former Qadhafi officials claimed the initial approach was not to fire until fired upon, evidence collected does not support this.

17. Witnesses detailed how, in Benghazi, protesters were shot near the Juliana Bridge. On 18 February 2011, after rocks were thrown as the funeral procession passed a military base, soldiers fired shots, killing several people. Witnesses reported later finding nine burnt bodies inside the base with their hands bound and with gunshots to the head.

18. The Commission determined that Qadhafi forces fired on protesters in Misrata, leading to deaths and injuries. A senior military figure indicated that the 32nd brigade passed instructions to ground commanders to shoot civilians.

19. The Commission received testimony and medical records relating to protesters killed in Tripoli. Doctors informed the Commission that between 20-21 February 2011 over 200 bodies were brought into morgues. Protesters were denied access to medical care while others did not seek medical treatment due to a well-founded fear of being detained. Further, the Commission received reports of protesters being shot outside mosques after Friday prayers throughout February and March 2011. Qadhafi forces reportedly seized ambulances to use for security patrols and for the arrest of protesters.

20. The Commission found local authorities exercised initial restraint when engaging protesters in the central square in Al Zawiyah. The Commission determined a violent response began after the 32nd Brigade arrived on 23 February 2011 and shot at unarmed protesters, killing seven, and prompting an escalation of violence on both sides.

21. Following the eruption of protests in Zintan, Qadhafi forces set up checkpoints encircling the town, cutting off supplies of fuel and food. The Commission received reports that Qadhafi forces shot at and beat protesters in the central square. The Commission was further informed that Qadhafi forces removed the injured from hospitals and detained men at the checkpoints.

3. Conclusion

22. The Commission finds that Qadhafi forces engaged in excessive use of force against demonstrators in the early days of the protests, leading to significant deaths and injuries. The nature of the injuries indicates an intention to kill; the level of violence suggests a central policy of violent repression. These actions breach international human rights law as an arbitrary deprivation of life.

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