[JURIST] An estimated 7,000 detainees are still being held without due process by Libyan revolutionaries, according to a UN report [materials] made public Monday. The report to the UN Security Council, by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile], says that most of the prisoners are being held in facilities maintained by independent brigades not under the control of the government, and that there have been allegations of abuse of prisoners. The report says that many of the prisoners are sub-Saharan Africans suspected of being mercenaries for former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. Among the alleged abuses of prisoners there have been allegations of torture, targeting individuals based on race, detaining women in facilities with all-male guards, and detaining children in facilities alongside adults. Ban urged immediate action to end the abuse of prisoners:
While the National Transitional Council has taken some steps towards transferring responsibility for detainees from brigades to proper State authorities, much remains to be done to regularize detention, prevent abuse, bring about the release of persons whose detention should not be prolonged and ensure that future arrests are carried out only within the law. … I believe that the leaders of the new Libya are truly committed to building a society based on respect for human rights. However difficult the circumstances, it is essential to take the earliest possible action to end arbitrary detention and prevent abuses and discrimination against third country nationals and against any group of Libya’s own citizens.
Ban said it is crucial for the UN to continue to work closely with the National Transitional Council (NTC) [official website] in Libya to monitor the governmental transition and recommended a three-month extension of the UN Support Mission in Libya [official website]. Libya’s leaders acknowledged Tuesday that some abuses may have occurred [AP report] but said the problem was not widespread and would be dealt with appropriately.
Last week, International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] said the ICC would allow Libya to conduct the trial of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi [JURIST report], son of Muammar Gaddafi. Ocampo said he trusts the new Libyan government will be able to try him fairly [AP report] despite concern expressed by human rights groups. Ocampo had traveled to Libya [JURIST report] to discuss the details of the Saif al-Islam trial with Libyan officials. Earlier this month, Saif al-Islam was captured in southern Libya, and Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Keib subsequently pledged that he would receive a fair trial [JURIST reports]. Also this month, Ottilia Maunganidze [profile], a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies [website], wrote that the NTC must meet its international obligations [JURIST op-ed] and ensure justice for human rights violations by surrendering Saif al-Islam to the ICC. Edsel Tupaz of Tupaz & Associates and Daniel Wagner [profiles] of Country Risk Solutions wrote this month that while Libya needs a “strategically targeted court system” with a specialized war crimes court [JURIST op-ed] at its core, currently there is no avoiding “the fact that there are no domestic judicial mechanisms [in Libya] … to enforce the voice of the ICC.”