Sunday 18 February 2018

UN suspends Libya from Human Rights Council

Jon Swaine

Libya has become the first country to be suspended from the UN Human Rights Council, after the rest of the world condemned the Gaddafi regime's "gross and systematic violations" of the rights of its people.

The UN General Assembly, which comprises all 192 members, agreed to bar Libya from the council, which aims to "strengthen, promote and protect human rights", on Tuesday evening in New York.

The measure was accepted "by consensus", a device used if there is no known opposition. Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, said: "The world has spoken with one voice".

Gaddafi has over the past week led a brutal crackdown on protests against his rule, leaving more than 1,000 dead and thousands more injured.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, described the move as a "harsh rebuke" to Colonel Gaddafi and said: "He must go, and he must go now".

"This unprecedented action sends a clear warning to Mr Gaddafi and those who stand by him," she said. "They must stop the killing".

Mark Lyall Grant, the British ambassador to the UN, said further action may be required by the UN Security Council, which last week imposed sanctions on Tripoli and referred its actions to the International Criminal Court.

"We are not ruling anything out at this stage, Mr Lyall Grant told reporters. "We will look to take whatever measures we consider necessary to respond to events on the ground."

A row broke out in the assembly chamber following the decision, after Venezuelan diplomats urged their counterparts to "put a stop to the invasion plans" that it alleged were being led by the US.

Miss Rice described the comments as a "wilful and ugly distortion" of the US position. "Venezuela's own reprehensible record speaks for itself," she said.

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