Patrick Cockburn article for the independent entitled ‘Don’t believe everything you see and read about Gaddafi’ raises some interesting points. Cockburn touches on what he sees as the naivety of the foreign media who ‘almost universally sympathise with the rebels’ swallowing whole the atrocities that are reported to them. For example, huge human rights abuses have been reported in Benghazi. One case in point is on the use of mass rape by Gaddafi’s soldiers which was covered by news channel Al Jazeera. Dead soliders of Gaddafi’s had been supposedly found with condoms and Viagra in their pockets. Dr Suleiman Refadi, a general surgeon at a Libyan hospital, assured Al Jazeera that these were evidence that rape was being used as a weapon of war. On the 9th of June 2011, the Telegraph published that the international criminal court's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, had evidence that hundreds of women had been raped. In addition, he said he had recieved information indicating that Gaddafi himself had decided to rape. Once these claims had come from the ICC, western media took what he had said as facts and began to report without evidence supporting these claims.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been unable to find evidence that supports these claims. In fact, researches were unable to find one woman who said she had been raped. Grave human rights violations like these are being reported on a daily basis and without any hard evidence to back up them up. Meanwhile, the media are quick to pick up on stories like these and sensationalise them to their viewers. Whilst there are certainly atrocities being committed, western media need to be more sensible when it comes to accepting without question what they hear from rebels or opposition members.