United Nations A/hrc/19/68



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Forced confessions

  • The Commission noted another pattern of torture inflicted on former Qadhafi soldiers. During its investigation of sexual violence, the Commission met with five detainees suspected of rape, some of which had reportedly confessed to the crime (see chap. III, sect. F).516 Each of those who reportedly confessed to rape also alleged to the Commission that they had been tortured, and most of these suspects bore visible markings lending credibility to their claim. Each one stated to the Commission that he had not perpetrated rape, but had confessed to doing so after he could no longer withstand the beatings.517

  • The Commission interviewed a detainee who fought with the Revolutionary Guard. He told the Commission that when Tripoli fell in August 2011, soldiers allegedly from the Souk al-Juma’a Brigade found and arrested him. He described how he was beaten severely upon arrest and taken to another location. After a few weeks he was told that he would be charged with murder and rape. He said interrogators burned him. The Commission viewed festering wounds from what appeared to be cigarette burns on his arms. The Commission was also able to see scars on the upper part of his body and on his arms which were consistent with his testimony. He stated that two ribs had been broken during the torture sessions and that he had been forced to sign a statement confessing to have raped two girls. The interrogations allegedly continued even around the time of the Commission’s visit. He informed the Commission that he did not kill or rape anyone. He has apparently had no contact with his family. He appeared to need treatment for the broken ribs as the Commission observed that the detainee was obviously in pain. The Commission raised the matter of the detainee’s medical condition with the authorities.

  • The Commission noted that a number of detainees were allegedly made to sign and/or thumbprint their confession.518 As noted above, it is impermissible under international human rights law to use as evidence a confession extracted through torture.519

      1. Treatment of Tawerghans

  • The Commission is seriously concerned about a pattern of mistreatment, including incidents of severe torture, committed against Tawerghans – particularly Tawerghan men on arrest and while in detention – by thuwar. It is the Misrata thuwar that are most regularly identified as perpetrators. The Commission notes that of the Tawerghans taken to detention centres, most were held in various locations in Misrata (see chap. III, sect. E).

  • In the course of its investigations, the Commission interviewed some 50 Tawerghan witnesses. Of these, 40 had experienced some form of mistreatment – ranging from being made to crawl on all fours and bark like a dog, to severe beatings, electric shocks and mock executions. Several reported deaths in custody of Tawerghans.520

  • Multiple interviewees stated they had witnessed the beatings and/or torture of other Tawerghan men, either on arrest or inside detention centres.521 Several family members of Tawerghan men who reportedly died in detention having been tortured also spoke to the Commission.522 The Commission viewed medical records and death certificates confirming the allegations of death in custody.523 The most serious incident reported to the Commission involved the torture and maiming of two men allegedly by thuwar from Misrata who shot them in a remote location apparently believing they would bleed to death.524

  • As with other instances of torture recorded here, the majority of Tawerghan victims were beaten on arrest. The ill-treatment consisted of being hit with hands, wooden sticks, metal sticks, rifle butts and being kicked.525 In some cases beatings continued until the men were brought to their places of detention.526 In instances where female relatives attempted to prevent the arrest, they too said they were beaten.527

  • Most of those interviewed by the Commission had been detained in Misrata. A few of the men were held in locations in unacknowledged centres, such as houses or offices in Tripoli, Al Khums and elsewhere, in most cases before being taken on to Misrata.528 It should be noted that the places of detention differed widely. In the majority of cases, arrested Tawerghan men were taken to unofficial detention centres, notably those located in the Al Wahda and Ras Altoba schools in Misrata. In a few cases, Tawerghan men were taken to Tripoli, Al Khums and Misrata and detained there.

  • Those detained experienced beatings of varying intensities. Interviewees generally reported beatings on arrival.529 The Commission interviewed two Tawerghan detainees who reportedly had confessed to committing rapes in Misrata during the conflict.530 Both said they had been beaten in order to elicit confessions of rape. In one case, the man was beaten with a whip; the Commission noted scars on his wrists and shoulders.531 In another interview, the man had been detained in Tripoli before being brought to Misrata. While detained in Tripoli, he had been stripped naked, beaten with a whip and kicked in the genitals. He was beaten again while in Misrata. Both stated their confessions were false. In a third interview, a Tawerghan man told the Commission that he had been beaten while in Al Zawiyah as part of an unsuccessful attempt to elicit a confession that he had committed rape in Misrata during the conflict.532 He indicated that he had been beaten with metal and wooden bars and whips on several occasions.533 On the last occasion, he stated, the beating was administered by 15 thuwar and that it had left him unconscious.534 He was moved to Misrata where he was also beaten during interrogations, the most recent beating was of his legs and feet which reportedly took place 15 days before the Commission’s interview. The Commission observed marks on both of his legs and on his face. Another interviewee indicated that there were other Tawerghan men in the detention centre who had confessed to rape as a result of beatings but that they were “too severely injured” to be interviewed.535

  • One interviewee was held along with nine others in a clinic in Al Khums where he said he was beaten all over his body with cables, rubber hoses, whips and wooden sticks. He was reportedly told that if he was killed, no one would be held to account.536 Shortly after his release he was again arrested in Tripoli by a group of thuwar, who went under the name of “Shuhada Tajoura Misrata.” He said they took him to a house in Tripoli where he and 35-40 other Tawerghan men were held, beaten and made to make animal noises and to say that Misratans were their masters.537

  • One interviewee detailed the arrest and beating of some nine Tawerghan men in Shawarif.538 He informed the Commission that his brother, a former soldier in the Libyan army, was particularly targeted and received electric shocks as well as being beaten with sticks and belts. His brother was returned to the cell unconscious before being taken to Misrata. The family was informed that the brother died in custody but they are too frightened to investigate further.

  • The most serious incident of torture of a Tawerghan detainee that the Commission recorded occurred when the victim and his brother were arrested in Tripoli in late October 2011 by 6-7 armed men. Like most, they were taken to Misrata where they were held in an isolated location.539 The interviewee was hung upside down and beaten on his feet with cables.540 His brother was hung by the wrist and hit on his stomach with chains.541 They were held for 17 days in a place with no light and no access to a bathroom.542 They were fed irregularly. Over a course of three days, his brother was beaten on his feet so badly that he was unable to walk.543 The Commission recorded the still visible trauma to the interviewee’s feet when it interviewed him in January 2012. Both men were threatened with a meat cleaver and were subjected to mock executions with guns fired close to them.544



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