EU imposes sanctions on Libya

EU imposes sanctions on Libya

European Union member states on Monday imposed sanctions on Libya, following the United Nations Security Council's call this weekend for punitive measures, DPA reported.

On Saturday, the Security Council called unanimously for sanctions to be adopted against the regime of Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi in response to his recent bloody crackdown on anti-government demonstrators.

"In line with the decision by the Security Council, the council of the EU banned the supply to Libya of arms, ammunition and related material ... At the same time, the council enacted the UN measures regarding a visa ban," said Hungary's minister of development, Tamas Fellegi. Hungary holds the EU's rotating presidency.

The visa ban and an accompanying asset freeze each cover 26 people "responsible for the violent crackdown on the civilian population," including Gaddafi and his family, Fellegi said in Brussels.

The UN had demanded a visa ban, asset freeze and arms embargo. In addition, the EU decided to impose a ban on the sale of non-lethal goods which could be used in the crackdown.

Speaking on the margins of a UN human rights meeting in Geneva, British Foreign Secretary William Hague hailed the EU move.

"This is a warning to anyone contemplating the abuse of human rights in Libya or any other country: stay your hand. There will be a day of reckoning and the reach of international justice can be long," Hague said.

His German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle, also called for Gaddafi to be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"I condemn the horrendous violations of human rights by the Libyan regime," Westerwelle said. The crackdown on the opposition is "totally unacceptable" and the perpetrators "will be held accountable for crimes, if necessary before the ICC," he said.

The ministers' demands were echoed by the EU's foreign policy chief, High Representative Catherine Ashton.

"We condemn the grave human rights violations committed in Libya. The violence and repression must stop. Those responsible must be held to account," she said.

Ashton praised the recent pro-democracy protests in the Middle East and said the international community should offer support. But she rejected accusations that the EU is trying to export European values.

"The right to free speech, freedom of assembly, justice and equality are not European rights, they are universal rights," she said.

On top of the sanctions, diplomats in Brussels said that France, backed by Spain and Italy, had called for an emergency EU summit to be held on Friday to discuss the Libyan situation.

France has recently pushed for tough sanctions on Gaddafi, but the government's credibility has been deeply undermined by the revelation of ministers' close ties to fallen autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia.

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