UN rights chief concerned over Libya torture allegations

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] addressed [statement] the UN Security Council Wednesday, expressing concern over alleged current human rights violations in Libya. Pillay first noted that the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) [official website] has expressed their commitment to human rights and has taken encouraging steps in that direction in the form of legal reform and new legislation. However, the interim government still has not gained effective control over the revolutionary brigades and a concern remains over the conditions of detention and treatment of detainees held by these brigades:

The [International Committee of the Red Cross] visited over 8,500 detainees in approximately 60 places of detention between March and December 2011. The majority of detainees are accused of being Gaddafi loyalists and include a large number of sub-Saharan African nationals. The lack of oversight by the central authorities creates an environment conducive to torture and ill-treatment. My staff have received alarming reports that this is happening in places of detention that they have visited.
She urged that all detention centers be brought under the control of the Ministry of Justice and the General Prosecutor's Office. Pillay welcomed a commitment to transitional justice to address both abuses of the past and those committed during the conflict.

Allegations of war crimes and human rights violations have been widespread in the aftermath of the Libyan conflict [JURIST backgrounder]. Earlier this month Middle East rights groups alleged human rights violations [JURIST report] and that all parties involved, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) [official website], committed acts ranging from use of excessive force against protesters to cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners during detention. They also urged support to the Libyan authorities in the implementation of section 12 of the UN Security Council Resolution 2009 [text in PDF]. In September 2011, the Libyan NTC vowed to investigate allegations of human rights after Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] published a report [JURIST report] alleging that both sides of the Libya conflict are responsible for human rights abuses and warning the NTC to act quickly to investigate these allegations. In August, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] Libyan troops used children as human shields [JURIST report] to deter attacks by NATO. That same month, the Libyan Prime Minister Al Baghdad Ali Al-Mahmoudi requested that the UN create a "high-level commission" to investigate alleged human rights abuses [JURIST report] by NATO.

 

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