A team of investigations from the United Nations have arrived in Tripoli, Libya to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in the strife-torn country since the civil war erupted over two months ago, according to reports.
The three-man group was dispatched by the UN Human Rights Council following reports of violent abuse, illegal detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and murder by the Tripoli regime against protesters.
The UN team comprises: Cherif Bassiouni from Egypt, an emeritus law professor and UN war crimes expert, who is chairing the mission; Asma Khader, a Jordanian-Palestinian lawyer and human rights advocate; and Philippe Kirsch, a Canadian lawyer who has served as a judge at the International Criminal Court.
The investigating team is expected to travel all over Libya and then submit their findings to the Human Rights Council by mid-June.
In late February, the UN’s human rights commissioner, Navi Pillay, had said that the activities of Moammar Gaddafi’s forces may amount to crimes against humanity.
However, the UN team will also look in abuses allegedly committed by Libyan rebels as well.
The Libyan government has said it will cooperate with the probe.
Meanwhile, reports are coming out of Libya that Gaddafi’s troops are again seeking to recapture the western city of Mistrata through indiscriminate shelling of the rebel-held city. Mistrata, the only city in the west under rebel control, has been under siege for two months, and it is believed hundreds of people there have died during the offensive. A city of more than 1-million, Mistrata is reportedly facing a dire humanitarian crisis, with many people lacking food, water and medicine.
In Geneva, UN spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told a news conference:
“Many houses and buildings have been destroyed and some families had to move several times. Parts of Misrata have had neither electricity nor water. Sniper fire, street clashes and shelling have prevented people from venturing outside of their homes to get food and medicine. Families evacuated from Misrata also say they have been hiding in their homes for the past two months before seizing the opportunity of a lull in fighting to get to the harbour and board a boat.”