United Nations A/hrc/19/68

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B. Unlawful Killings


  1. The HRC in resolution S-15/1 expressed “deep concern at the deaths of hundreds of civilians”, referring also to “indiscriminate armed attacks against civilians” and “extrajudicial killings”.

  2. In the first phase of its work, the Commission received contrasting accounts of the particular circumstances leading up to the use of force by security forces against demonstrators. The Qadhafi Government stated that demonstrators’ violent actions, in attacking police stations, necessitated the use of force by authorities. Protestors reiterated the peaceful nature of their demonstrations. It was accepted by both the Qadhafi Government and the demonstrators that Qadhafi forces used significant force, including the use of firearms and other weaponry, against persons participating in demonstrations at that time.

  3. The Commission documented killings in Benghazi, al-Bayda, Darnah, Tripoli and Misrata. The Commission was not able to determine the exact numbers of casualties during the demonstration phase, in part because its access to places and persons was limited, but also due to specific Government action taken in the aftermath of the demonstrations which limited available physical and documentary evidence. It concluded that the Government used lethal force with little evidence to suggest protestors were engaged in anything other than peaceful assembly.171 The Commission considered there was evidence of “shoot-to-kill” operations.172 Further work in regard to deaths during the demonstrations is contained in the Chap. III, sect. A.

  4. In its second phase, the Commission confirmed much of the information received in the first phase, but concentrated on reported unlawful killings which took place after the first phase of its work had been completed and which were unrelated to the early demonstrations. In doing so, it benefited from wider geographical access and from a greater willingness of witnesses to speak out. It was also able to speak to numerous high-ranking detainees to gain information on the likely perpetrators of killings. The Commission concentrated on some of the larger scale executions by Qadhafi forces, but is aware that many individual killings were committed by Qadhafi forces which are not documented here. It is clear that the treatment of captured civilians and thuwar by Qadhafi forces steadily deteriorated as the armed conflict progressed in intensity. The Commission also examined allegations of unlawful killings perpetrated by the thuwar.

  5. The Commission’s findings are based on grave-site and morgue visits, eyewitness accounts, testimonies of former and current detainees and information obtained from family members of victims, forensic pathologists and other medical professionals. The Commission and its forensic expert also examined torture-related wounds and reviewed medical reports and other photographic and audio-visual evidence.

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