Amnesty International has charged NATO with failing to investigate the deaths of scores of Libyan civilians who did not directly participate in hostilities during the air bombing campaign last year.
In a new report published Monday, the human rights group claims that although NATO made significant efforts to minimize the risk of causing civilian casualties, many Libyan non-combatants were killed during air strikes.
It is deeply disappointing that more than four months since the end of the military campaign, victims and relatives of those killed by NATO air strikes remain in the dark about what happened and who was responsible said Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.
NATO officials repeatedly stressed their commitment to protecting civilians. They cannot now brush aside the deaths of scores of civilians with some vague statement of regret without properly investigating these deadly incidents.”
During the revolution, Gadhafi's government often claimed that NATO bombing runs hit civilian buildings and the state news agencies showed hospitals full of the victims of NATO air strikes on television.
Amnesty itself documented 55 cases of civilian casualties that can be blamed directly on NATO, including 16 children and 14 women who were killed during offensives in cities like Tripoli, Zlitan and Sirte.
NATO has looked into each credible allegation of harm to civilians which has been brought to our attention and will continue to do so, said NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu in a statement.
Libya's rebel fighters, who were led by the National Transitional Council -- the interim government that still oversees the country -- have been accused of perpetrating their own war crimes. In the weeks following Moammar Gadhafi's death, a number of organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the U.S State Department, demanded that an investigation be made into the extra-judicial executions of prisoners of war.
We found 53 decomposing bodies, apparently Gadhafi supporters, at an abandoned hotel in Sirte, and some had their hands bound behind their backs when they were shot, said Peter Bouckaert, Emergencies Director at HRW, in October.
The evidence suggests that some of the victims were shot while being held as prisoners, when that part of Sirte was controlled by anti-Gadhafi brigades who appear to act outside the control of the National Transitional Council, Bouckaert added.