Libyan forces have arrested nearly 2,500 people who face ongoing torture and detainment without formal charges [briefing paper, PDF], Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] alleged Thursday. Interviews of 300 Libyan prisoners in August and September revealed that many were abducted from their homes without arrest warrants, were beaten and tortured in prison to elicit confessions and are still being held with charges, all in violation of domestic and international law. Among other abuses, the briefing alleged that sub-Saharan blacks face heightened abuse and discrimination in the detention facilities, including lack of mattresses, verbal abuse and beatings. AI acknowledged the challenges facing the newly formed government, the National Transitional Council (NTC) [website]:
The NTC faces considerable challenges in its efforts to reform the judicial system and control the numerous armed militias that have largely taken the law into their own hands. In a period of transition, it is imperative that the NTC firmly demonstrate its commitment to turning the page on decades of gross and systematic violations in Libya. It must uphold human rights in Libya and exercise the necessary political will to investigate abuses committed by anti-Gaddafi forces, prosecute those responsible, and ensure that individuals found guilty of abuses are held to account for their actions and removed from positions that would allow them to repeat such abuses.Trials in the country have been suspended [AI news release] since the NTC took control earlier this year.
The NTC has been gaining recognition among other countries, as well as the World Bank [JURIST report]. Last month, the NTC vowed to investigate allegations of human rights after AI published a report [JURIST report] alleging that both sides of the Libya conflict [JURIST backgrounder] are responsible for human rights abuses and warning the NTC to act quickly to investigate these allegations. Also last month, the NTC assured world leaders that Libya will be a society of tolerance and respect [JURIST report] for the rule of law. During a meeting [BBC report] in Paris chaired by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, NTC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil [BBC profiles] vowed to administer elections and draft a new constitution for Libya within 18 months. However, allegations of war crimes and human rights violations have been widespread during the Libya conflict.