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Rights group reports abuse of undocumented foreign nationals in Libya

Undocumented foreign nationals in Libya are at risk of facing mental and physical exploitation and abuse that may include torture, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF; press release] Tuesday. The report urged Libyan authorities to confront issues of xenophobia and racism, which may in part be inspired by the prevalent belief that some foreigners were "mercenaries" who had supported the ousted regime. The report is based on visits with 2,700 foreign nationals in detention centers throughout Libya between May and September of this year, including pregnant women, and unaccompanied minors held over migration offenses. According to AI, many detainees displayed bruises said to be linked to the abuse, such as being beaten with metal wires, water pipes and rubber hoses. Among other hardships, the report indicated women at the centers are vulnerable to sexual violence from male guards. According to Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at AI, despite the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] in 2011, undocumented foreign nationals currently face worse situations than before.

Violence and abuse in Libya has been a concern in the aftermath of the Libya conflict [JURIST feature]. Earlier this month the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] urged the Libyan government [JURIST report] not to grant amnesty to war criminals. In March AI released a report accusing the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) [official website] of allowing the abuse and torture [JURIST report] of supporters of former leader Gaddafi by unofficial militias. Last year, AI released a report detailing similar abuses faced by prisoners [JURIST report] in Libya. The ICC also announced that it would not grant immunity [JURIST report] to any person perpetrating crimes against humanity in Libya.

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