UN: Arbitrary detentions in Libya are violations of human rights

UN: Arbitrary detentions in Libya are violations of human rights

A UN report [text, PDF] published Tuesday detailed [press release] the conditions of thousands of people are being held in Libya, describing them as human rights violations.

According to the report, released by the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] about 6,500 people are being held in official prisons, but thousands are being detained in facilities controlled by armed groups. Some of these armed groups are not state-affiliated. One facility, which holds about 2,000 people, subjects detainees to torture, unlawful killing, lack of adequate medical assistance, and other poor detention conditions. Additionally, the report asserts that people are arbitrarily being detained because of their tribal or family background and perceived political affiliations.

The report further contends that government officials use armed groups to arrested suspected opponents.

Rather than reining in armed groups and integrating their members under State command and control structures, successive Libyan governments have increasingly relied on them for law enforcement, including arrests and detention; paid them salaries; and provided them with equipment and uniforms.

The UN claims that Some have been held in detention for years without any indication of a trial.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] called the conditions “appalling abuses” and “sheer horror.” The UN urged officials to condemn such practices and to hold violators accountable.

Libya has been politically unstable since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi [JURIST backgrounder] and subsequent civil war. Earlier this month, the OHCHR urged [JURIST report] Libyan officials to ensure human rights are not violated in the country. In September, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore spoke on the deteriorating human rights situation [JURIST report] in Libya and called for accountability and reform. In February, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported that numerous armed groups are preventing [JURIST report] thousands of internally displaced individuals from returning home.