Torture rife in Libyan detention facilities says United Nations

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Nearly 8,000 detainees are being held in Libyan jails without access to family or legal assistance, according to a new report by the United Nations.

The report which is jointly published by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), says the detainees are randomly subjected to torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment as a means to extract confessions in facilities run by armed brigades which emerged during the 2011 armed conflict.

Those arrested are taken from their homes, workplaces, streets or checkpoints on suspicion of having supported the Gadhafi regime or on the basis of their tribal or ethnic groups.

Detainees who spoke to United Nations investigators said they were beaten with whips, cables and metal bars, given electric shocks, hung upside down, burned with cigarettes and hot liquids and denied food for long periods.

The United Nations is warning that unless appropriate action is taken, there is danger that torture will become institutionalized within the new Libya.

Ravina Shamsadani from the UN Human Rights office says 27 detainees have died in custody since late 2011, with significant information suggesting that torture was the cause of death.

"In some cases, members of the armed brigades freely admitted, and even tried to justify, the physical abuse of detainees. The UN recommends that Libyan authorities and the armed brigades accelerate the process of handing over detainees to the effective control of State authorities, and in the meantime take measures to protect detainees against torture or other ill-treatment. The UN further recommends that Libyan authorities adopt a strategy to screen and, where appropriate, release or charge and prosecute conflict-related detainees, in implementation of the Law on Transitional Justice. They should also build the capacity of the criminal justice system to safeguard detainees against any form of abuse and end impunity for on-going violations."

In April 2013, Libya adopted a law criminalizing torture, enforced disappearances and discrimination, providing for terms of imprisonment ranging from five years to life.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration 2:05″


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