An estimated 7,000 detainees are still being held without due process by Libyan revolutionaries, according to a UN report made public Nov. 28. The report to the UN Security Council, by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, says that most of the prisoners are being held in facilities maintained by independent brigades not under the control of the government, and that there have been allegations of abuse of prisoners. The report says that many of the prisoners are Black Africans suspected of being mercenaries for former Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi. Among the alleged abuses of prisoners there have been allegations of torture, targeting individuals based on race, detaining women in facilities with all-male guards, and detaining children in facilities alongside adults. Ban urged immediate action to end the abuse of prisoners:
While the National Transitional Council has taken some steps towards transferring responsibility for detainees from brigades to proper State authorities, much remains to be done to regularize detention, prevent abuse, bring about the release of persons whose detention should not be prolonged and ensure that future arrests are carried out only within the law… I believe that the leaders of the new Libya are truly committed to building a society based on respect for human rights. However difficult the circumstances, it is essential to take the earliest possible action to end arbitrary detention and prevent abuses and discrimination against third country nationals and against any group of Libya’s own citizens.
Ban said it is crucial for the UN to continue to work closely with the National Transitional Council (NTC) in Libya to monitor the governmental transition and recommended a three-month extension of the UN Support Mission in Libya. Libya’s leaders acknowledged Tuesday that some abuses may have occurred but said the problem was not widespread and would be dealt with appropriately.
From Jurist, Nov. 29. Used with permission.