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Libyan protester shot dead by security forces

    February 17, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Libyan authorities to cease using excessive force to suppress anti-government protests after at least another person was shot and killed today by police.
     
    Nacer Miftah Gout'ani was shot dead when government security forces opened fire on demonstrators taking part in a social network-led "Day of Rage" in the city of Al Bayda, 100 km east of Benghazi. Dozens more were injured in the protests.
     
    At least two people were killed in clashes yesterday and more than 30 were reported to have been injured, 11 critically, while many more were arrested in the crackdown.
     
    "The Libyan authorities tried to smother this protest before it even got off the ground but that, clearly, did not work. Now they are resorting to brutal means to punish and deter the protestors,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.
     
    "The police in Libya, as elsewhere, have a responsibility to ensure public safety but this does not extend to using lethal or excessive force against peaceful protesters.
     
    “Even when protestors do use violence, the police must not use disproportionate or excessive force. They must use no more force than the circumstances require, and lethal fire should be seen as only the very last resort.”
     
    Two protesters shot dead yesterday have been named as Sa’d Idriss al-Yamani and Khaled Ennaji Khenifer. A third person, an unnamed woman, is also said to have been killed when she was hit by a bullet while watching the protests from her window.
     
    Unconfirmed reports suggest that at least 12, possibly more, protesters have been killed in the past two days across Libya.
     
    “The Libyan authorities must allow peaceful protests to go ahead,” said Malcolm Smart.
     
    “Libyan police and security forces must respect the rights of protestors, not abuse them. The government must rein in these forces and order an immediate impartial investigation into the deadly and other excessive force that has been used so far."

    Beth Berton-Hunter,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    416-363-9933, ext. 332