U.S. backs expelling Libya from U.N. rights council

WASHINGTON Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:47pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it supported expelling Libya from the United Nations Human Rights Council, saying the government had violated the rights of its people.

Witnesses have said Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has used aircraft, tanks and mercenaries to try to crush protests against his 41-year rule of the oil-exporting nation in North Africa.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to fly to Geneva this weekend to attend a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council and to consult other foreign ministers on how to try to stop the violence in Libya.

"We support expelling Libya from the Human Rights Council. The Libyan government has violated the rights of its people," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, saying such a step would increase Libya's international isolation.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Doina Chiacu)