U.S. says Gaddafi troops raping, issued Viagra: envoys

UNITED NATIONS Thu Apr 28, 2011 5:34pm EDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.S. envoy to the United Nations told the Security Council on Thursday that troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi were increasingly engaging in sexual violence and some had been issued the impotency drug Viagra, diplomats said.

Several U.N. diplomats who attended a closed-door Security Council meeting on Libya told Reuters that U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice raised the Viagra issue in the context increasing reports of sexual violence by Gaddafi's troops.

"Rice raised that in the meeting but no one responded," a diplomat said on condition of anonymity. The allegation was first reported by a British newspaper.

Pfizer Inc's drug Viagra is used to treat impotence.

If it is true that Gaddafi's troops are being issued Viagra, diplomats said, it could indicate that they are being encouraged by their commanders to engage in rape to terrorize the population in areas that have supported the rebels.

The use of rape as a weapon during wartime has received increasing attention at the United Nations. Last year, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed a special envoy on sexual violence during armed conflict, Margot Wallstrom.

Earlier this month, Wallstrom chided the Security Council for failing to mention sexual violence in two recent resolutions on Libya, despite having made the subject a priority.

Wallstrom said at the time that reports of rape in Libya remained unconfirmed but cited the highly publicized case of Eman al-Obaidi, the woman who burst into a journalists' hotel in Tripoli last month saying she had been raped by pro-government militiamen.

The International Criminal Court is already investigating whether Gaddafi's government committed war crimes in its violent crackdown against demonstrators who demanded greater freedoms. The crackdown sparked a rebellion that has turned into a civil war.

The U.S. mission to the United Nations declined to comment.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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