NEWS
13/09/2011 05:47 BST | Updated 12/11/2011 05:12 GMT

Anti-Gaddafi Forces And Loyalists Both Guilty Of War Crimes, Amnesty International Says

Anti-Gaddafi forces and those loyal to the deposed leader's regime are both guilty of human rights abuses carried out during the battle for Libya, Amnesty International has said.

The human rights group claimed that while pro-Gaddafi forces committed widespread crimes under international law during the conflict, forces loyal to the National Transitional Council (NTC) were also responsible for abuses that in some cases amounted to war crimes, albeit on a smaller scale.

In a report published on Tuesday Amnesty said there was evidence that pro-Gaddafi forces engaged in indiscriminate attacks, mass killing of prisoners, torture, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary arrests.

But the report warned that some rebels had engaged in a brutal "setting of scores" with regime loyalists. Amnesty said the NTC needed to "get a grip" on their own forces' behaviour.

The NTC now controls most of the country. Speaking at a rally in Tripoli Libya's new leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil urged his followers to respect the rule of law.

"No retribution, no taking matters into your own hands and no oppression. I hope that the revolution will not stumble because of any of these things," he said.

On Monday Jalil received a boost when China officially recognised the NTC as Libya's legitimate government.

Amnesty International's senior director Claudio Cordone said those responsible for the "dreadful repression" under Colonel al-Gaddafi will need to be held accountable and that the NTC would be judged by the same standards.

“The new authorities must make a complete break with the abuses of the past four decades and set new standards by putting human rights at the centre of their agenda," he said.

"The onus now is on the NTC to do things differently, end abuses and initiate the human rights reforms that are urgently needed."

In its report Amnesty warned the interim rulers against carrying out reprisal attacks against Gaddafi supporters and those believed to be mercenaries working for him.

It said in the first days of the uprising groups of protesters killed a number of captured soldiers and suspected mercenaries in al-Bayda, Derna and Benghazi. Some were beaten to death, at least three were hanged, and others were shot dead after they had been captured or had surrendered.

One who appeared to have been executed was found with a note attached to him that said: "A dog among Gaddafi’s dogs has been eliminated”.

Several detainees, including Libyan and foreign civilians, as well as captured soldiers, told Amnesty International that they were tortured, including one prisoner who said he had been beaten with a metal bar and shocked with an electric baton.

Amnesty also criticised anti-Gaddafi forces for firing "unguided and indiscriminate" rockets from front-line positions in eastern Libya which pose a "lethal danger" to civilians.

Colonel Gaddafi himself remains at large, and defiant, with regime loyalists still in control of Bani Walid and Sirte.