[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] Thursday reported the recent deaths of several Libyan detainees who were apparently tortured while in custody [press release]. The deaths come amid allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment of detainees accused of being pro-Gaddafi loyalists and fighters during the Libyan conflict [JURIST backgrounder] last year. AI conducted extensive interviews with detainees in and around Tripoli, Misrarah and Gheryan, many of whom showed visible marks indicative of torture, and whose accounts of maltreatment are consistent with their patterns of injury. AI reports that both official military and security entities as well as the multitude of unrecognized armed militias are responsible for the torture and subsequent deaths. Despite repeated requests by AI since May and its October report calling for an end to the torture of Libyan detainees [report, PDF; press release], AI claims the new Libyan government has not taken adequate steps to investigate such human rights violations:
So far there has been a complete failure on the part of those in power to take concrete steps to end torture and other ill-treatment of detainees and to hold accountable those responsible for such crimes. We don’t underestimate the challenges faced by the Libyan transitional authorities in establishing control over the multitude of armed militias operating throughout the country, but we must see them taking decisive action on torture. In the interests of building a new Libya based on respect for human rights, this issue cannot be left at the bottom of the pile.
AI concludes its most recent report by urging the Libyan government to abolish all non-official detention facilities and bring them under the control of legal authorities, to conduct investigations into the alleged torture practices and other maltreatment, to remove from detention facilities persons engaged in such activities and to provide detainees access to fair trials, lawyers and medical support.
Allegations of war crimes and human rights violations have been widespread in the aftermath of the Libyan conflict. On Thursday UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] expressed concern [JURIST report] over human rights violations in the country, urging that all detention facilities to be brought under the control of the Ministry of Justice and the General Prosecutor’s Office. Last week a coalition of Middle Eastern human rights organizations accused [JURIST report] the parties involved in the Libyan conflict to be in violation of human rights by using excessive force against protesters and cruel treatment of detainees. In September the Libyan NTC vowed to investigate allegations of human rights after 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 the charges. In August Libyan Prime Minister Al Baghdad Ali Al-Mahmoudi requested that the UN create a “high-level commission” to investigate human rights abuses allegedly committed by NATO [JURIST report].