Mr. Speaker, I am rising in the House today to support the UN mission in Libya and Canada's participation in it. I join with those who believe that this mission is justified and that it should be extended because of Moammar Gadhafi's actions towards the Libyan people. The sad reality of the situation in Libya is that the real victims of Colonel Gadhafi's lust for power are the civilians. Make no mistake about it, Libya's civilians are not just collateral damage from a conflict between two factions. They are being directly targeted by Colonel Gadhafi and his armed forces.
And this is not coming from marginal sources with questionable information. It is coming from organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Criminal Court. As a result of an investigation, the International Criminal Court prosecutor concluded that Gadhafi personally ordered attacks on unarmed civilians, that he authorized the use of aircraft to attack protesters, that his troops attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in public areas, that he posted snipers outside mosques to kill people leaving after prayer and that he used heavy artillery to fire on funeral processions.
This is not the only source of evidence. A mission by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to Tripoli and rebel-held areas found evidence that Gadhafi's troops had attacked civilians, workers and medical units. For its part, Human Right Watch has documented serious violations of the laws of war by Libyan forces, including indiscriminate attacks in residential areas in Misrata and in the villages of the Nafusa mountains. In February, Amnesty International also found overwhelming evidence of the use of lethal force against protestors who posed no threat and were directly targeted.
This evidence clearly shows that Colonel Gadhafi's actions do not respect the laws of war and that some of these actions could be condemned as war crimes. These violent attacks against the population justify the intervention of the international community because history has shown that action must be taken in such situations and that prompt action is vital.
When I was a member of the Canadian Forces, a number of colleagues spoke to me about their experiences in countries ravaged by civil war. Whether it was Rwanda or Yugoslavia, they talked about horrible situations in which no child should be involved.
The quick adoption of resolution 1973 and the rapid deployment of international forces to put in place a no-fly zone must be applauded. However, history shows us that it is also important to act with a clearly defined mandate. For that reason it is vital to clearly define the mandate of the troops deployed, to establish a specific time frame, and to target interventions based on clearly-defined objectives, those set out by the UN resolution. We must put a stop to attacks against civilians. Libyan military and paramilitary forces must return to their bases, and humanitarian aid must be accessible to all those in need.
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has investigated and has drawn conclusion of the following allegations of war crimes.
The evidence shows that Moammar Gadhafi personally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians, including the use of aircraft to attack protesters. His forces attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in public space, repressed demonstrations with live ammunition, used heavy artillery against participants in funeral processions and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after the prayers. Gadhafi forces have lists with the names of alleged dissidents. They are being arrested, put into prisons in Tripoli, tortured and made to disappear.
The UN Human Rights Council's mission to Tripoli and rebel-held areas in late April found evidence of war crimes by Gadhafi's forces, including attacks on civilians, aid workers and medical units. Aircraft, tanks, artillery grad rockets and snipers were used. It also found some evidence of crimes by opposition armed forces, including the arbitrary detention and torture of suspected Gadhafi supporters. The commission did not find evidence that the opposition armed forces were part of any widespread or systematic attacks against the civilian population.
Human Rights Watch has documented serious violations of the laws of war by Libyan government forces, including repeat indiscriminate attacks into residential neighbourhoods in Misrata and towns in the western Nafusa Mountains.
Amnesty International has also found clear evidence of the use of lethal force against protestors in February and, more worrying still, that in many cases protesters who posed no threat were deliberately killed.
The International Criminal Court is also investigating allegations that Gadhafi ordered his troops to commit the systematic rape of women in rebel-held areas, based on information that Gadhafi himself authorized the rapes and provided drugs to enhance the ability of his force to rape women. Due to the social stigma associated with reporting rape and the displacement of civilians, it is difficult to know how widespread the use of rape as a weapon of war is, but the ICC has received information that there are several hundred victims in some areas.
As far as humanitarian aid is concerned, the situation in Libya is alarming. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 people have been killed in the past four months of combat; close to half a million civilians have left their homes and fled the country since the crisis started; another 330,000 people in the country have had to leave their homes to seek shelter elsewhere in Libya. These people have to live with very little and face shortages of food and water. They have almost no access to medicines and are unable to travel because of fuel shortages.
The situation is even worse at the border with Tunisia, where Tunisian authorities are struggling to receive thousands of Libyan refugees who want to flee their country. The United Nations estimates that as many as 3.6 million people could be in need of humanitarian assistance and that is where our government can and must do more. So far, only half the United Nations' requests for aid have been met.
If we talk about people being killed, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people have been killed on both sides in four months of fighting in Libya. Almost 500,000 people have left the country since the crisis began, while about 330,000 people have been internally displaced. It is estimated by the UN that at least 1,000 people, mainly men, have been kidnapped or have disappeared in Misrata since the conflict began in February.
The UN refugee agency reports that tens of thousands of people on both sides of the battle lines in Libya are facing a critical shortage of essential goods, including food, medicine and fuel.
The situation on the Tunisian border is increasingly strained as Tunisian authorities struggle to absorb the tens of thousands of Libyans fleeing the conflict. Under the United Nations' worst-case scenario, as many as 3.6 million people in the country could eventually require humanitarian assistance.
This is why we have to support those people. We need to be there to support all the women and all the people living in Libya.
There are probably people in Canada of Libyan origin and I sincerely believe they would be proud that we are supporting them. I would not want to have to inform any of them that their family members back in Libya had been killed or raped. I believe we must support them out of respect for human rights. These people have the right to feel safe in their homes.