United Nations A/hrc/19/68

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Factual findings

Qadhafi forces

  1. The Commission met with 35 people who had personally suffered torture and ill-treatment at the hands of Qadhafi forces.479 A number of other individuals the Commission met provided corroborating, second-hand accounts of torture. The Commission investigated several alleged cases of persons who died through torture, verified with medical records. One doctor in Tripoli estimated that he had seen 90 deaths that occurred as a result of torture by the Qadhafi forces during conflict.480

  2. The methods of torture catalogued by the Commission included severe beatings, often with wooden or metal bars, whips, or wires or cables. Electric shocks were also prevalent among the accounts, both by taser-like tools481 as well as by using stripped wires from an electrical cable plugged into a wall outlet. Victim accounts related electrocution on all parts of the body, including orifices and genitalia, and shocks delivered while the victim was forced to stand in water. Victims related how Qadhafi forces also beat them on the soles of the feet (falaqa), on the shins, back and head; burned them with cigarettes or lighters; threatened them with dogs; put toilet paper on their bodies and burned it,482 suspended them over doors or hung them from bars;483 urinated on them;484 locked them in small spaces (such as shipping containers or refrigerated trucks); or held them in solitary confinement for extended periods. Mock executions and threats of death were also reported. The testimony provided to the Commission was provided in circumstances and with detail that engendered confidence in the reliability of the allegation. The Commission was able to independently verify many of these claims either by viewing the wounds and scars of the victims or through medical reports examined by the Commission’s forensic pathologist. The Commission also visited several of the sites where the events allegedly occurred and found evidence consistent with these accounts.

  3. Two primary patterns of torture by Qadhafi forces were identified by the Commission. Most cases of torture occurred in official or unofficial detention facilities (such as shipping containers or private company compounds) as Qadhafi’s security apparatus sought information on the activities of those opposing the Government, or simply to punish people for supporting the opposition. Other instances of maltreatment occurred when the opportunity arose, for example during arrest or searches of houses of suspected thuwar. This second pattern usually began with hitting, kicking and blows from rifle butts. It occurred as well during arbitrary raids of entire neighbourhoods such as took place in Misrata when all male family members were arrested.485 Some of the detainees, particularly in the east, were also captured at frontlines.

  4. Upon arrest, the security forces would handcuff and blindfold the suspect. Beating usually began immediately upon arrest either with fists, kicking, or with rifle butts. The detainees would most often be driven to a preliminary detention location for interrogation.486 Questions during interrogation were generally focused on information about the thuwar forces, plans, weapons, leadership, and funding. On various occasions a suspect could not be found and a family member was arrested instead, and then the questions were about the activities of the family and the whereabouts of other members.487 After a few days at the initial location, where generally the most severe forms of torture occurred, the detainees were transferred to a jail. Often beatings accompanied their arrival.488


  1. There were at least five locations in the Tripoli region where the Qadhafi forces detained and interrogated suspected thuwar and their supporters. Among them were prisons in Ein Zara, Abu Salim, Maftouh, Jdeida, as well as the locations of the former Internal Security Agency (Jihaz Al-Amn Al-Dakhli), External Security Agency (Jihaz Al-Amn Al-Kharaji), and Military Intelligence headquarters (Jihaz Al-Amn Al-Askari or Istikhbarat). The security agencies had detention facilities at their headquarters, but also within both Ein Zara and Abu Salim.489 The Commission gathered convincing evidence that torture had taken place in these locations.

  2. The Commission met with one former protestor who was arrested by Qadhafi forces on 9 March 2011.490 He related how he was stopped at a checkpoint and loaded into one of several trucks, along with some 120 other detainees. The entire group was taken to the Directorate of Military Intelligence in Tripoli where they stayed for one night. During this time, the detainees were blindfolded and were beaten intermittently with electric cables. The interviewee stated that he did not know who was beating him, as he was on the ground and the blows were coming from all directions. He said that the beatings lasted for about 20 minutes, and were repeated at intervals. He eventually lost consciousness and woke up when some liquid was poured on his face. The interviewee told the Commission that during the interrogation, he was asked about other thuwar and whether he had weapons. He said he was told to provide 15 names of government opponents. The following morning the group was transferred to the Abu Salim prison. Upon arrival, a “welcome party” greeted them with wooden sticks, belts and rubber hoses. The beatings lasted approximately 10 minutes.


  1. The Qadhafi Government also created unofficial detention centres. An agricultural warehouse in Yarmouk served as one such facility.491 Inmates there reported severe beatings being meted out during interrogations together with electrical shocks from a cable in the wall. The Commission visited the site and found evidence corroborating the torture allegations. The Commission noted the presence of the cross bar on which one witness stated that detainees were suspended. It found ropes described by a survivor as a means for hanging and torturing detainees and wire manacles. The Commission also found bottles used by detainees in which to urinate as they were unable to use a latrine, and a rubber hose and interlaced electric cable that was used, according to a survivor, as a means of beating. The Commission also found hair littering the floor of the annex of the warehouse apparently from routine shaving of the detainees’ heads. Separately, the Commission interviewed a survivor who showed scars on the back of his hand and on the inner surface of the victim’s right leg, which he said were caused by the application of electrical wire connected to a wall outlet.

  2. The site was the scene of a mass execution in August 2011 (see chap. III, sect. B).

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