Thousands detained without charge in Libya

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Dec. 2 that thousands of people, including children, are being arbitrarily detained in Libya. The report highlights torture and other forms of ill-treatment in four prisons in Tripoli and Misrata, which were personally visited by HRW representatives. The report is based upon interviews conducted by HRW with 120 detainees, none of whom have been charged with a crime or granted the opportunity to appear before a judge. According to HRW, the detainees provided "credible and consistent" accounts of mistreatment. HRW representatives saw signs of mistreatment such as beatings on the soles of the feet with plastic pipe, electrical cable, chains, sticks, fists, and even horsewhips; suspension from doors or ceilings for hours; electrical shocks; and solitary confinement. Stating that "Prolonged detention without judicial reviews is a grave violation of international law and may amount to a crime against humanity," HRW urged the UN Security Council to increase pressure on Libya to order the immediate release of all those who have been wrongfully detained. HRW has also called upon the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to open an investigation into arbitrary detentions in Libya.

From Jurist, Dec. 3. Used with permission.

Note: While the report blames "consecutive interim governments" for failing to end the arbitrary detentions, the facilities examined in the report are in the western part of Libya controlled by the "unofficial" government based in Tripoli. Many of the cases date to the 2011 revolution. HRW found that "1,975 out of 2,479 detainees have languished in prisons for up to four years without being brought before a judge, receiving any form of judicial review or being charged with an offense."