United Nations A/hrc/19/68



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Vigilantism

  • The Commission noted that family members of thuwar killed or injured during the conflict - or even victims themselves - have been given access to detainees and have been allowed to confront and even beat them.545 This practice does not appear to have subsided despite the time passed since hostilities closed.

  • A report received by the Commission described a victim who had been raped in detention by Qadhafi forces in Benghazi. Upon his release the young man fought for the thuwar for several months. Near the end of the hostilities, the man learned that the interrogator who had raped him had subsequently been injured in the fighting and was in a hospital in a neighbouring city. The young rape victim went to the hospital and killed the perpetrator. The authorities apparently arrested him, but released him shortly thereafter saying he would be prosecuted “once the judicial system is up and running again.”546

  • Another detainee suffered at the hands of an alleged former victim.547 In Ein Zara prison the Commission met a young man of Chadian decent, but who had lived in Libya his entire life. He stated that he was not involved in the fighting on either side but the thuwar arrested him along with an older brother in November 2011. They had no arrest or search warrant. He admitted to stealing a phone and 1500 dinars from a neighbour’s vacant house, but the thuwar accused him of murder.

  • The man was allegedly taken to the local military council. As soon as he arrived he was hung by his handcuffed hands onto a door and beaten with rubber hoses by thuwar. He was later made to sit on the ground and lift his feet up. He was then beaten on the soles of the feet for some 20 minutes. He said he was unable to walk for some time afterwards. Later, a man who did not work with the local military council, but who came from outside, woke the interviewee up at about 3am, took him outside, made him sit on a bench, and handcuffed one of his hands to its side. He allegedly began hitting him on his head with the back of a rifle and insulting him. Reportedly, he said to the detainee: “I know you, you abducted me. I will teach you a lesson. I will now kill you.” The perpetrator then made him kneel, and he put a revolver in his mouth and pulled the trigger. The gun was not loaded. He also beat him on the soles of his feet with a belt. Later, he tied the belt around the detainee’s neck and made him crawl on the ground while barking. He then handcuffed him back to the bench, and beat him further. The interviewee fell over with the bench, and the torturer poured cold water over him. The incident lasted about 45 minutes until the interviewee finally admitted to killing and participating in fighting.

  • The Commission learned of another case where thuwar stabbed to death a former Qadhafi soldier in late October while he was convalescing in Al Zawiyah hospital.548

  • The current authorities acknowledged to the Commission the grave situation with respect to torture in unofficial detention facilities. In a meeting with the Minister of Interior, it was stated that “torture takes place particularly at the moment of arrest and during interrogation; especially at the hands of the brigades.”549 The Minister explained this as a reaction to the crimes committed by the Qadhafi Government - noting rape in particular - and that the pent up anger made it difficult to convince the thuwar brigades to respect the rights of detainees.550

  • In a meeting with the Commission in February 2012, the Minister of Justice echoed this view, noting that “some mistakes have been made, but that Libya is still in the process of evolving from a revolution to a state.” The Minister told the Commission that the interim Government takes reports about torture seriously and that the new Libyan state does not accept violations. He stated that if a detainee complains about torture, an investigation will be opened into the case.551 The Commission is not aware of any case which has yet been opened, however. All Government officials the Commission spoke with stated their commitment to the rule of law, equal treatment, and human rights. The Commission is aware that the interim Government, specifically the Minister of Justice, has recently issued instructions to those entities operating detention facilities, insisting that torture and maltreatment stop.552

      1. Conditions of detention

  • The Commission noted a small number of allegations of overcrowding which was explained in part with reference to the number of facilities had been destroyed during the conflict.553 Most detainees appeared to have their own bed or mattress, or at least access to one. Some facilities appeared unable to provide sufficient heating.554 Most appeared to have exercise facilities although it was unclear whether the detainees were permitted to use them and for how long. There were a small number of minors detained together with the adult population.555 Solitary confinement for extended periods was being employed in several sites, and it appeared to be used as punishment for the detainee’s alleged crimes during the conflict.556 Other complaints related to quantity of food, water and fresh air. The Commission could not adequately assess the medical services. Visits by family members remain problematic in several sites and it appeared to the Commission – a fact confirmed by the authorities – that none of the detainees had access to lawyers.557



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