February 24, 2011

As nongovernmental organizations from all regions of the world working in the field of human rights, we call upon the United Nations General Assembly to immediately suspend the rights of membership of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in the UN Human Rights Council (HRC).

The General Assembly contemplated the possibility that suspension of a member's rights in the Human Rights Council might be necessary in the event of serious deterioration in the human rights situation that state. Resolution 60/251, which created the Council, provides, in operative paragraph 8, that "the General Assembly, by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting, may suspend the rights of membership in the Council of a member of the Council that commits gross and systematic violations of human rights."

The Libyan government of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, is committing "gross and systematic violations of human rights." A variety of sources report numerous repeated attacks by the Libyan authorities on the civilian population of Libya, including by firing live ammunition at demonstrators. Many hundreds of demonstrators have been killed by Libyan state authorities.

Colonel Gaddafi has admitted the systematic intent behind the violence unleashed on the Libyan population and has given cause for substantial concern that further violence will occur. On February 22, Colonel Gaddafi spoke of protestors as "cats and dogs" and threatened to "cleanse Libya house by house." His son Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi said on February 20 that the authorities would "fight to the last man and woman and bullet" in combating the protests and threatened that "rivers of blood" would flow.

The League of Arab States on February 22 denounced the acts of violence being committed against civilians as severe violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in particular the hiring of foreign mercenaries and the use of live ammunition and heavy artillery against protestors, and banned Libyan delegations from participating in all bodies affiliated with the Arab League until the Libyan authorities met the League's demands to guarantee the security of its people.

The Peace and Security Council of the African Union on February 23 strongly condemned "the indiscriminate and excessive use of force and lethal weapons against peaceful protestors" and called for an immediate end to all acts of violence.

United Nations institutions and authorities have also spoken out regarding the deplorable situation in Libya. On February 22, the UN Security Council expressed grave concern about this situation and "condemned the violence and use of force against civilians, deplored the repression against peaceful demonstrators and expressed deep regret at the deaths of hundreds of civilians." The Security Council also called on Libya "to meet its responsibility to protect its population and to act with restraint, to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, and to allow immediate access for international human rights monitors and humanitarian agencies."

Both UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay have condemned the attacks on demonstrators, with Secretary-General Ban expressing outrage at the situation and Ms. Pillay noting explicitly that the attacks against the Libyan population are both widespread and systematic, and may amount to crimes against humanity. Ms. Pillay's concern was echoed by the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, and the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, Edward Luck, who also stated that if the reported nature and scale of the attacks by Libyan authorities are confirmed, they may well constitute crimes against humanity.

It is time for the UN General Assembly to follow without delay the lead set by the UN Security Council, UN officials, and the concerned regional institutions. It is exactly for situations such as this that the General Assembly provided for the suspension of membership rights of a member of the Human Rights Council. Failure to act in the face of the gross and systematic violations committed by Libya would seriously undermine the credibility of both the Human Rights Council and of the General Assembly itself. In the face of the extreme deterioration in the human rights situation in Libya and the risk of further violence, we urge the General Assembly to adopt a resolution suspending Libya's membership rights in the Human Rights Council immediately.

Signatories (updated February 28, 2011)

Accountability Watch Committee, Nepal

Advocates for Public Interest Law, Republic of Korea

African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies

African Democracy Forum

Ain o Salish Kendra, Bangladesh

Al Mezan Center for Human rights, Gaza/Palestine

Amnesty International

Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information

The Arab Organization for Human Rights, Syria

ARC International

Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Asian Legal Resource Centre

Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, Egypt

Association for Human Rights Legal Aid, Egypt

Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights

Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha, India

Burma Centre Delhi, India

Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies

Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee

The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Cambodia

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

Center for Egyptian Women's Legal Assistance

Center for Trade Union and Workers' Services, Egypt

Centre for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia

Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, Argentina

Chin Human Rights Organization, Thailand

Chin National Front, India

Christian Development Alternative, Bangladesh

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Indonesia

Committees for the Defense of Democracy Freedom and Human Rights, Syria

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies

Democracy Coalition Project, United States

DEMOS, Indonesia

Dignity International

Droits Humains Sans Frontières, Democratic Republic of Congo

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project

Egyptian Association for Enhancing Community Participation

Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

El Nadim Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims, Egypt

Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network

Ezra Ministries of Tanzania, Tanzania/Democratic Republic of Congo

Fahamu Refugee Programme, United Kingdom

Health Equity Initiatives, Malaysia

Hisham Mubarak Law Center, Egypt

HRWG - Indonesia's NGO Coalition for International Human Rights advocacy

Human Rights Defenders' Alert, India

Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, Thailand

Human Rights First Society, Saudi Arabia

Human Rights Now, Japan

Human Rights Organization in Syria - MAF

Human Rights Watch

The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (IMPARSIAL)

INFORM Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka

INHURED International, Nepal

International Commission of Jurists

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

International Service for Human Rights

The Iraqi Human Rights Association in Denmark

Journalist for Human Rights, Sudan

Judicial System Monitoring Programme, Timor Leste

Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Association, Cambodia

Korean House for International Solidarity, Republic of Korea

Korean Public Interest Lawyers Group (GONGGAM), Republic of Korea

Kurdish Committee for Human Rights in Syria

Kurdish Organization for the Defense of Human Rights and Public Freedoms in Syria

Luta Hamutuk Institute, Timor Leste

Maharat Foundation, Lebanon

MARUAH - Working Group for ASEAN Human Rights Mechanisms, Singapore

Migrant Forum in Asia

National Commission for Justice and Peace, Pakistan

National Council of Liberties, Tunisia

New Woman Foundation, Egypt

The New Zealand National Refugee Network

Odhikar, Bangladesh

Open Society Foundations

Palestinian Human Rights Organization, Lebanon

Partners for Law in Development, India

Pax Romana - International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs

Pax Romana - International Movement of Catholic Students

People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Republic of Korea

People's Watch, India

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates

Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, India

South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia

Thai Committee for Refugees

Think Centre, Singapore

West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network

World Forum for Democratization in Asia

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)