Libyan human rights abuses 'deeply concerns' Ban Ki-moon


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The Independent Online

Illegal arrests, revenge attacks and deaths following torture in secret prisons are continuing in Libya by armed militias with the new government failing to establish an effective judicial system, according to the Secretary General of the United Nations.

In a report due to be delivered to the Security Council, obtained by The Independent, Ban Ki-moon expresses his “ deep concern” at the systematic abuse continuing seven months after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

The Secretary-General recommends that the UN Support Mission the Libya (UNSML) should continue for another 12 months. But he points out that raising human rights concerns by the international community pressure groups has had little effect with the country’s interim administration, which is seemingly unable to curb the excesses.

Up to 6,000 detainees, including women and children, remain in private jails run by various ‘brigades’ with very little known of what is going on inside. The militias have also taken control of some official prisons and the numbers being held are actually increasing as “Revolutionary ‘brigades’ continue to carry out arrests of alleged former regime supporters and interrogation, including at undisclosed locations, as well as to control known detention centres where conditions remain mostly Poor” said Mr Ban.

The 2,382 detainees in the 23 jails “under government control” are also facing problems as “The majority of their files remain unprocessed; only a small number of these detainees have been released.

“The judicial process itself continues to be hindered by the prevailing security situation, the reluctance of prosecutors and judges to return to work, and slow progress in reforming and activating the judiciary”.

Visits by officials from the UN to several jails have led to reports of severe torture and ill treatment perpetrated by the “brigades, including deaths in custody, particularly in Tripoli, Misrata, Zintan and Gheryan.”

Communities of sub-Saharan origin who were deemed by the rebels to be regime collaborators have been exiled from their own homes, with those from the city of Tawergha, near Misrata, a centre of opposition resistance particularly affected. Around 80,000 residents are now internal refugees living in appalling conditions and subject to attacks.

The report stated that these people “remain internally displaced, mainly Tawerghas, other minorities and people associated with the former regime, due to fears of reprisals in their areas of origin.

“They are in need of protection including interim solutions to improve living conditions and access to basic services and in the longer term, reconciliation between communities to allow their return to their areas of origin”.

Meanwhile the Tawerghans in their refuges are being regularly targeted by militias. “On 6 February, two attacks against members of the Tawergha internally displaced people community in Tripoli took place, resulting in the deaths of seven, including three children and two women. These incidents follow a pattern of general harassment and intimidation of Tawergha community members reported elsewhere in the country including in Benghazi” said the Secretary-General’s report.

Ban Ki-moon does, however, praise the progress being made in some aspects of the security situation. The report emphasise the growth of Civil Society and attempts to integrate the militias, “including the recruitment of 10,000 former fighters onto the payroll of the Ministry of Interior which has developed a strategic plan for their integration”.

Jordan and Turkey, in particular, are praised for their support of the training of “former fighters” in the Brigades to become police and regular soldiers.