Thursday, February 24, 2011

ILO Joins the Voices Condemning Violence in Libya

The United Nations labor chief today added his voice to the chorus condemning Libya’s leaders for the deadly violence against mass protests, stressing that the North African country is a further example of the risks to those who fail to heed widespread unemployment and poverty.  “Libyan leaders must put an immediate stop to the massive killings, large-scale violence and generalized repression unleashed against peaceful demonstrations of people exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and assembly,” UN International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Juan Somavia said in a statement.

“Of grave concern to the ILO is the plight of domestic and migrant workers and their families caught in the midst of this deepening humanitarian, social and political crisis. Their rights, voices and dignity must be respected. This includes respect for the basic right to freedom of association of employers and of workers.”

Mr. Somavia fully associated himself with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who yesterday condemned Libyan President Muammar Al-Qadhafi’s actions against protestors as possible crimes against humanity, and called for the punishment of those who “brutally shed” the blood of innocents.  He noted that ILO’s standards supervisory bodies have repeatedly requested Libya to let workers set up and join organizations of their own choosing and voiced strong concern that people trying to exercise this right have been subject to repressive measures, including forced labour.

The situation in Libya illustrates that unattended widespread unemployment, poverty and lack of freedoms are a major impediment to development and eventually lead to grave national and international security risks, ILO noted.  Mr. Somavia stressed that the Libyan people deserve to benefit from a sustained effort for development with social justice which gives all women and men, and particularly youth, their rightful share in the fruits of progress and respects dignity and basic rights through decent work. 

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

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