ResourcesPress Release

Libyan Attacks on Hospitals, Patients, and Medical Professionals Must End

PHR calls for investigations into reported crimes

For Immediate Release

In Libya during the past two weeks, forces under the command ofPresident Muammar Gaddafi have carried out appalling assaults on the sick, the wounded,and on medical professionals. Unconscionable acts have been reported, includingthe shooting and killing of patients and fighting inside hospitals and clinics andfrom medical vehicles.

Physiciansfor Human Rights (PHR) calls for an immediate end to these alleged violentattacks on civilians and a halt to all interference with medical care in Libya.

"Thosewho have shot and killed the sick and wounded in cold blood and who haveprevented injured patients from receiving care should be prosecuted andpunished,” said Frank Donaghue, PHR’s CEO. "Hospitals should be places ofhealing, not terror, and these crimes shock the conscience.”

PHRapplauds the unanimous UN Security Council vote referring the situation inLibya to the International Criminal Court and supports an immediateinternational investigation into these crimes which constitute gross violationsof human rights and humanitarian law.

Reportsfrom a variety of news, medical, and human rights sources, as well as severaleye-witness accounts collected by PHR include:

  • Armedmen storming local clinics
  • Patientsdisappearing from hospitals
  • Shootinginside clinics and hospitals
  • Bodies beingremoved from morgues and disposed of secretly
  • Forcesfiring on ambulances
  • Gunmenusing ambulances to fire on protestors
  • Injuredbeing shot dead instead of being taken to hospitals
  • Attackson health professionals
  • Medicalstaff and supplies being kept from people who need them

"Individualsand leaders who continue to allow and encourage these crimes — or worse yet,carry them out — must be held individually responsible for them. Each and everyviolation should be documented for the purpose of accountability and to preventfuture atrocities,” said Donaghue. "International human rights monitors andinvestigators should be allowed immediate access to the country. TheInternational Committee of the Red Cross should also be granted unfetteredaccess to Libya.”

Innumerous conflicts, from former Yugoslavia to El Salvador to Somalia, PHR hasdocumented and decried attacks on medical personnel and interference in thedelivery of care. Such acts constitute gross violations of human rights andcustomary international law under the Geneva Conventions.

"PHR salutes thecourageous health professionals in Libya who have risked gunfire and attackswithin hospitals, who have set up makeshift clinics and convoys to deliverdesperately needed medical care and supplies to the sick and the wounded, andwho have worked tirelessly to fulfill their medical duties in spite of theseoverwhelming obstacles,” said Donaghue.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

Media Contact

Kevin Short

Media Strategy, Senior Manager1.917.679.0110