UNSC unanimously slaps sanctions on Libya

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Betwa Sharma

United Nations, Feb 27 (PTI) India and 14 other membersof the powerful UN Security Council today unanimously slapped"biting sanctions" on the Gaddafi regime in the form of anarms embargo, asset freezes and travel ban and also ordered aninternational war crimes probe into the bloodshed in Libya.

The vote came as the violence flared up in the NorthAfrican country, with more than 1,000 pro-democracy protesterslosing their lives in the brutal crackdown launched by forcesloyal to Muammar Gaddafi to crush the two-week revolt againsthis 41-year authoritarian rule.

Diplomats spent entire day yesterday working on theresolution prepared by France, UK, Germany and the US,following which it was adopted unanimously early this morning.

The sanctions included asset freezes for 68-year-oldGaddafi and his family, travel ban for the Libyan leader andhis family as well as other leaders of the Libyan regime, acomprehensive arms embargo and an immediate referral to theHague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).

"We deplore the use of force, which is totallyunacceptable," Hardeep Singh Puri, India''s ambassador to theUN said at the Council after the resolution was approved.

"We also have concerns about the safety of Indianationals and their assets in Libya," he said, asking Libyato ensure the safe departure of foreigners in the country.

The main bone of contention during the discussion was theimmediate referral to the ICC since some countries in theSecurity Council, including India, China, US and Russia arenot members of the tribunal.

India, however, relented after the resolution wasmodified to include that the Security Council could defer ICCaction for a period of 12 months and renew that deferral,which is also article 16 of the Rome Statute that establishedthe ICC.

The resolution also states that non-Libyan nationals froma country, which is not a party to the Rome Statute, shallonly be subject to jurisdiction of that state for any crimescommitted in Libya in operations authorised by the Council.

"We would have preferred a calibrated and gradualapproach," Puri told Council, noting that 114 out of the 192nations of the UN are not members of the ICC.

The envoy, however, added that India "had gone along withthe consensus in the Council" because African and Arab stateswanted to refer the matter to the ICC, and this was also whatLibyan envoy Mohamed Shalgam had asked for in his letter sentto the Council yesterday.

Susan Rice, US envoy to the UN, pointed out that this wasthe first time a resolution referring a case to the ICC hadpassed unanimously.

She said the Council wanted "biting sanctions" targetingLibya''s unrepentant leadership. (More) PTI BS

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