Extracts from the Report of the International Commission of Inquiry to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya directly relevant to the use of cluster munitions in Libya:
With regard to the use of weaponry, the commission is concerned that the Libyan authorities have not been making appropriate and precautionary assessments which would, in the commission’s view, militate against the use of weapons such as mortars in densely populated urban areas. The commission is also concerned about reports of the use of weapons such as expanding bullets, cluster munitions and phosphorous weapons in highly populated areas. Further investigation, however, including forensic analysis, would be needed to confirm the use of these ammunitions.
With regard to allegations concerning the conduct of hostilities by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the commission is not in a position at this stage to assess the veracity of the information received concerning indiscriminate attacks on civilians. The commission has not, however, seen evidence to suggest that civilians or civilian objects have been intentionally targeted by NATO forces, nor that it has engaged in indiscriminate attacks.
Finally, the commission feels that, at this stage, it is not in a position to identify those responsible, as requested by the Human Rights Council in the resolution establishing its mandate.
The commission, in view of the time frame within which it has had to complete its work, and considering the gravity and the complexity of the situation, recommends that the Human Rights Council remain seized of the situation by extending the mandate of the commission or by establishing a mechanism with the ability to continue the necessary investigations into both the human rights and humanitarian law situations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for a period of one year.
185. Cluster munitions. The Commission is aware of reports of the use of cluster munitions by pro-Government forces in their attempt to regain control of the besieged city of Misrata. On 15 April 2011, HRW reported that Government forces had fired cluster munitions in residential neighborhoods of Misrata further specifying that the cluster munitions were Spanish produced MAT 120mm mortar projectile, which open in mid-air and release 21 submunitions over a wide area.241 Other independent sources including Amnesty International have confirmed the incident and stated that Spain sold such munitions to Libya in 2007. Further investigation, including military and forensic pathologist expertise is, however, required to confirm or deny the usage of cluster munitions.
241 Upon exploding on contact with an object, each submunition disintegrates into high-velocity fragments to attack people and releases a slug of molten metal to penetrate armored vehicles. Human Rights Watch, “Libya: Cluster Munitions Target Misrata,” 15 April 2011, available from
188. Mortars: Based upon the facts available to it, the Commission believes that Government forces of Libya utilized mortars in their attacks on Misrata and Zintan. Mortars are weapons that kill or maim whoever is within the impact zone after they explode and they are unable to distinguish between combatants and civilians. A decision to deploy them in a location where a large number of civilians is likely to be present, is a decision that a commander should know will result in the death and/or and injuries of some of those civilians.
189. From the information available to it, the Commission is concerned that the Libyan authorities have not been undertaking appropriate and precautionary assessments which would, in the Commission’s view, militate against the use of weapons, such as mortars, in densely urban areas. The Commission is also concerned about reports of the use of weapons such as expanding bullets, cluster munitions or phosphorous weapons within highly populated areas. Further investigation, however, including forensic analysis would be needed to confirm the usage of these ammunitions.