United Nations A/hrc/19/68

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Allegations of a widespread or systematic policy of rape

  • Reports of the threat and fear of rape by Qadhafi forces were frequently raised by interviewees. Libyan interviewees in Tunisia, for instance, noted that they had received phone calls from their relatives in Al Zawiyah and Zowara reporting collective rape of residents by Qadhafi forces and “alleged mercenaries” as well as some unidentified armed men. The Commission listened to a reportedly intercepted phone conversation between [024] and [074] in Zowara where [024] says, “There should be five men to every house in Zowara.” This has been interpreted by many Libyans to mean that soldiers were encouraged to rape in Zowara.776 The Commisison was not able to authenticate it.

  • These reports of rapes and widespread fear of rape had the consequence, if not purpose, of terrorizing a community and forcing many to flee their homes with their children.

  • In Misrata today, many people believe that the Tawerghans who supported Qadhafi’s forces during the conflict were responsible for rapes in Misrata. This unsubstantiated allegation has been used as one of the main justifications for driving the Tawerghans out of the area (see chap. III, sect. E).

  • One of the major issues that the Commission faced was the wide discrepancy between the numbers of allegations of sexual violence, in particular rapes, reported by some local sources in Libya compared to the number of documented cases found by the Commission, and other organizations. The Commission recognizes that there is under reporting of rape due to the factors already mentioned, and that there is sufficient evidence to justify further investigation to establish if sexual violence was widespread or systematically carried out or ordered.

      1. Allegations of sexual violence committed in detention centres

  • There were 15 allegations of sexual violence inside detention centres committed by Qadhafi forces and two committed by the thuwar. Twelve victims were male and five were female. Of the 17 total allegations of sexual violence in detention cases: 7 men were sexually tortured in Abu Salim; 3 women and 2 men were sexually tortured in Ein Zara; and the other allegations of sexual violence apparently took place during the interrogations in the offices of local security agencies, military bases, unofficial camps and in other locations that the victim could not recognize.

  • Ten allegations involved rape, sodomy or penetration with a stick or bottle or weapon. Other acts often involved electrocution of the genitals777 and burning genitals with cigarettes or lighters.778 Beatings and other forms of torture often accompanied these acts (see chap III, sect D). All the victims described sexual acts perpetrated against them as a means to extract information, to humiliate, or to punish them for revolutionary acts or the acts of the victim’s family members.779

  • The Commission met with one woman who had been arrested in June 2011 near her university.780 She said she was blindfolded and driven to a small house where she was interrogated for eight days about her education, family and friends, and was accused of being anti-Qadhafi. She was transferred to Ein Zara prison where 80 other anti-Qadhafi women were held. She was stripped naked as were the other women. She said the women were regularly raped and she said she had been raped twenty-four times over two months. She was also electrocuted on her genitals and burned by cigarettes. She was released to return to her family, but she told the Commission she would never live a normal life again with her husband and children. The Commission was unable to find other victims of the 80 to corroborate this account.

  • The Commission met with a man who had been feeding information to thuwar during the revolution.781 He said he was arrested in February 2011 and taken to a detention centre in Tripoli. He was asked about the thuwar and where weapons were stored. When he told them he didn’t have any information, a group of men started to beat him all over his body with heavy sticks. They pulled his trousers off and two of the men sodomized him. They told him if he didn’t give them the information they were looking for they would kill him and bury his body with “the other rats.”

  • The Commission met with a doctor who told the Commission he had been active in the revolution and was arrested in late March 2011 and taken to a prison.782 He spent four months in prison and said he was routinely raped and routinely penetrated with a stick. He said many of the men in prison had been raped and sustained anal injuries and infections which he helped to treat. He told the Commission that he has suffered serious mental health issues since being sexually tortured in detention.

  • The Commission met with a man who had been arrested by Qadhafi’s External Security Agency (Jihaz Al-Amn Al-Kharaji) in Tripoli in June 2011.783 He had been smuggling arms to the thuwar. For five days he was tortured. He was suspended from a beam by his wrists; forced to stand in a bucket of water while his genitals were electrocuted with live wires; and beaten with a rubber hose. The guards attempted to force him to rape a female prisoner, but he refused and was then sodomized by six men as punishment. He said he continued to be sexually tortured until Tripoli was liberated in August. He said he has since suffered severe psychological trauma from the torture.

  • The Commission met with one witness who said he discovered a villa (an unofficial detention centre) with men, women and children found detained in the basement.784 In this basement, he said they discovered a room with iron bars, rubber hoses, electric wires and cables, and blood. Cells lined a corridor where people were detained without toilets or mattresses. One cell contained six naked women and another cell contained 16-18 boys. The witness told the Commission he heard that the women had been sexually abused. According to the witness, 260 people had been detained in this villa, some for years. The Commission tried repeatedly to visit the site but was unable due to security and logistical constraints.

  • The Commission also spoke with a former guard at a detention centre785 who is now detained by the thuwar and accused of murder, torture and rape. The former guard said that he had never raped any of the male detainees himself, although he had been ordered to. Many of the detainees interviewed told the commission that they had witnessed or otherwise knew of other detainees being raped or sexually tortured within the centres.786 One detainee in Abu Salim stated he thought “rape was rampant in prisons.”787

  • The Commission found consistent statements of victims and other witnesses who corroborated that both men and women were being raped and sexually tortured in certain detention centres. The Commission suspects that there was a great deal of under reporting due to the shame surrounding the issue. Several men spoke about “feeling less of a man” or “no longer being a man” after the rapes and torture. Although the Commission could not establish a policy of such treatment in the prisons, the information gathered suggests that it was used as a method to obtain information from thuwar. There is no evidence that such acts were ever prevented, investigated or punished.

      1. Thuwar

  • The Commission has interviewed two victims who said they had been sexually tortured by thuwar in detention centres.788 One was a member of the Revolutionary Guard, arrested on suspicion of murder.789 She said that during interrogation sessions she was electrocuted on her legs and breasts. She was released after 9 days due to lack of evidence. In the other case, a woman who volunteered with the Popular Guards was arrested in her home by the thuwar and told “you killed us, now we will kill you”. She was taken to the former Internal Security Agency where she said she was held for a month. She said that she was hung from a door, electrocuted and a knife was stuck into her vagina. She told the Commission that she was threatened with rape by a guard, but it never happened.790 She also said she witnessed a man who was another member of the former Qadhafi forces being tortured and penetrated with a plastic water bottle in his cell.

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