NATO Refuses to Investigate Libyan Civilian Deaths

The civilian death toll from NATO strikes in Libya is not known, and NATO plans to keep it that way

by John Glaser, October 04, 2011

In August, regime officials of Muammar Gadhafi claimed that 85 civilians were killed in a NATO airstrike in the village of Majar. Locals have acknowledged that the Gadhafi spokesman’s figures were inflated, including both those killed and injured.

But now survivors and family members are requesting compensation for the lost lives and property and they’re demanding answers as to why NATO bombed them. They put the death toll at 35, and provided photographs of 28 people they said were victims, which included young men, older women, and children.

NATO denies the claims of civilian casualties, sticking to their initial assessment that the target in Majar, which was hit with precision-guided munitions, was a “military staging area.” Further, NATO has no plans to investigate the incident, despite calls by Amnesty International and the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to investigate the true number of civilian casualties and property damage.

“NATO does not have any troops on the ground in Libya and consequently no reliable method to verify the civilian casualty allegations,” NATO spokesman Col. Roland Lavoie told McClatchy news service. It is acknowledged that Gadhafi officials inflated the death count, but history has also exposed NATO as underestimating the true number of deaths resulting from their attacks.

The refusal to compile figures for alleged civilian casualties or conduct investigations at sites such as Majar only adds to this uncertainty.

NATO has ignored calls for investigations into other alleged incidents of killing civilians, of which there have been a few. NATO has admitted to at least one occasion in which a NATO strike hit a civilian home in Tripoli, killing a number of civilians, including infants. The numbers of those killed by NATO strikes in Sirte, one of the most intensely attacked cities of the war, are much higher that the Majar incident, going into the hundreds.

The crimes committed on civilians, a number of them resulting in civilian deaths, by NATO’s rebel allies are also not being investigated by NATO or any other body, but are expected to be significant.

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