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Rights groups urge UN to investigate Libya torture allegations

Three human rights groups on Friday jointly announced allegations of torture [press release] against Libyan security officials. Alkarama, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and TRIAL [advocacy websites] have obtained documents that purportedly demonstrate that government officials blocked an investigation into the role of the Libyan Internal Security Agency (ISA) in the death of Ismail al Khazmi. Al Khazmi was arrested by Internal Security agents without a warrant in 2006 and died while in custody. The documents include an autopsy that noted "bruising and contusions all over [al Khazmi's] body" and concluded that his death was a result of blunt force trauma. The groups have also obtained a prosecutor's report noting that General Saleh Ragam, the agency's head, declined to investigate the incident. The documents have been submitted to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture, Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, and on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers [official websites] for review. Alkarama and TRIAL previously submitted the claims to the UN Human Rights Committee [official website], which is expected to release its findings [AFP report] in 2011.

Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] in June stating that Libya had made some progress with regards to human rights, but that the situation remained "dire." The report included violations by the ISA, which "appear[s] to have unchecked powers to arrest, detain and interrogate individuals suspected of dissent or of terrorism-related activities." AI also echoed concerns about the use of the death penalty, which the group expressed weeks earlier when it condemned the execution [press release; JURIST report] of 18 people, including foreign nationals, in Libya. HRW issued a similar report [text; JURIST report] in December, finding that Libya is making strides towards greater transparency and acknowledgment of human rights but that it still has a long way to go.

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