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Libyan rebels detaining thousands illegally

category north africa | imperialism / war | non-anarchist press author Thursday November 24, 2011 18:53author by The Guardian Report this post to the editors

An estimated 7,000 detainees being held, including women, children and black Africans tortured for skin colour.

Libya's former rebels have illegally detained thousands of people, including women and children, according to the United Nations secretary general.

Many of the 7,000 prisoners have been tortured, with some black Africans mistreated because of their skin colour, women being held under male supervision and children locked up alongside adults, the report by Ban Ki-moon found.

The report, due to be published on Monday, presents a grim assessment of Libya following the civil war, with many prisoners held in private jails not under the control of the interim government and denied access to due legal process.

The UN chief said: "While prisoners held by the Gaddafi regime had been released, an estimated 7,000 detainees are currently held in prisons and makeshift detention centres, most of which are under the control of revolutionary brigades."

Prisoners had "no access to due process in the absence of a functioning police and judiciary", he added. Most courts were "not fully operational" due to a lack of security and a reduction in the number of judges and administrative staff.

Ban said that sub-Saharan Africans accounted for many of the detainees, while members of Libya's Tawerga community had faced reprisals, including revenge killings, for their role in attacks by Gaddafi forces on the city of Misrata.

While Gaddafi employed some fighters from neighbouring countries as mercenaries, other Africans worked in civilian jobs in the oil-rich North African country. Human rights groups claim that some rebels made no distinction between the two.

The report raised concern about "disturbing reports" that war crimes had been committed by the rebels and former government forces in Sirte, where deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed last month.

UN officials have called on Libyans to respect human rights and refrain from revenge attacks after months of fierce fighting between rebels and Gaddafi loyalists.

Ban said that while the ruling National Transitional Council had made some moves to transfer detainees from private to state prisons, "much remains to be done to regularise detention, prevent abuse and bring about the release of those whose detention should not be prolonged".

Libya's acting justice minister has handed the UN mission in Libya a draft law on transitional justice, with the goal of uncovering the truth behind human rights violations, reconciling the country's various rival factions, trying war criminals and compensating victims.

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