United Nations A/hrc/19/68

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  • The attack by Nalut thuwar on the town of Tiji in early October 2011 is documented elsewhere in this report (see chap. III, sect. E). The Commission met five former detainees, among several dozen who were reportedly arrested after the attack, who described to the Commission that they were held for between two and five days prior to being released.451 They reportedly were kicked, beaten with rifle butts and fists. They were never charged with any offence and were subsequently released.

      1. Inter-thuwar detentions

  • Inter-thuwar clashes have occurred in the atmosphere of lawlessness that existed in several parts of Libya following the conflict. They were most pronounced in Tripoli where a number of thuwar brigades maintained a presence even at the time of writing. Following some clashes, brigades have arbitrarily arrested those associated with other brigades. One such detainee who the Commission interviewed had been taken by a brigade from Wershafana on 11 November 2011 and detained there along with 64 others from Al Zawiyah.452 The Al Zawiyah brigade held about 27 men from Wershefana. The two brigades had fought over control of the “27 km” checkpoint which had led to several deaths between 10 and 12 November 2011. Both groups arrested residents of the "enemy town" in retribution. Several people were arrested in their cars apparently for no other reason that having Al Zawiyah license plates. Many, but not all were ill-treated. Members of the NTC intervened and mediated an exchange of detainees between the brigades.

      1. Enforced disappearance

  • The Commission notes that in a number of the arrests described in this Section, where the detainee is not able to be visited by family, not seen by the ICRC, and not allowed to meet with legal counsel, this might fall under the legal definition of enforced disappearance.453

  • For example, one interviewee told the Commission that his brother, a former member of Qadhafi’s security apparatus, but who had allegedly defected to the thuwar, was arrested at the family home in September 2011.454 On inquiring into his brother’s whereabouts, the interviewee was repeatedly told at each of several locations that his brother was elsewhere. Staff at each location seemed to know little of the actual transfer of the brother as ‘they only dealt by word of mouth and no documents were passed.” After being passed between two particular Misratan thuwar brigades for over a month, the interviewee gave up his search. Sometime thereafter, the interviewee received a phone call from a man who was being held at the former Internal Security Agency detention centre in Misrata who said he had been detained together with the brother and that the brother had succumbed to torture some 25 days prior. The Commission understands that the family has never found the brother or his body.

      1. Conclusion

  • The Commission concludes that Qadhafi forces continued their practice of arbitrarily detaining persons it suspected were supporting the thuwar or were otherwise anti-Qadhafi. While many detainees may have been participating in armed resistance,455 the Commission found that family members, peaceful demonstrators, and others wholly uninvolved, were caught up in the Qadhafi Government’s response. In conducting these arrests, it failed to afford the requisite legal protections in violation of both its domestic and its international human rights obligations. The Commission has also followed up on a number of disappearance cases documented in its first report and found that although many were subsequently released and returned to their families, many others appear to have been killed while in detention, and a significant number of persons have never been found. The number of missing persons in Libya remains high.

  • Thuwar forces have been involved in the arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance of perceived Qadhafi loyalists, security officers, alleged mercenaries and members of the former government. Detainees have been arrested without a warrant, without being told the reasons for their arrest, and without a reasonable suspicion that they have been individually involved in criminal activity. Such arrests have often been accompanied by extortion and pillaging. Detainees are neither informed of their rights, nor provided them in practice. The Commission has information that a number of detainees are being held outside any legal framework in unacknowledged centres, although it was unable to independently confirm this information. The Commission received accounts of enforced disappearance that it deems to be credible.

  • The Commission observed a wide variation in the treatment of detainees by the thuwar. Some facilities, including unofficial ones, appeared to be meeting some international standards, while other detention facilities, even those under the control of the interim Government, struggled to meet even basic conditions.

  • According to information received in February 2012, some eight detention facilities across Libya – from 60 known locations - are now under the control of the interim Government. The interim Government appears to be making some headway in extending its control over the known detention centres. The interim Government has stated to the Commission its commitment to close all unofficial and unacknowledged detention centres as quickly as possible and take steps to curb maltreatment.456

  • Recent statements by the NTC indicate that the new authorities are recognizing the concern and taking steps to address it, following the attention brought to this issue by the UN, and a number of national and international NGOs.457 Nevertheless, the Commission noted that maltreatment is still taking place in centres under the control of local military councils and security committees and access to family members remains limited. Access to lawyers is still not afforded.

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