Libya militia 'out of control'

2012-02-16 07:44
Tripoli - Amnesty International said on Thursday armed militia in Libya commit widespread human rights abuses, creating instability and obstructing efforts to rebuild the country.

"Armed militias operating across Libya commit widespread human rights abuses with impunity, fuelling insecurity and hindering the rebuilding of state institutions," Amnesty warned in a new report.

The report, released a year after the start of the February 2011 revolt that toppled Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, documents "serious abuses, including war crimes, against suspected Gaddafi loyalists, with cases of people being unlawfully detained and tortured - sometimes to death", it said.

"Militias in Libya are largely out of control and the blanket impunity they enjoy only encourages further abuses and perpetuates instability and insecurity," said Donatella Rovera, senior adviser at Amnesty International.

"The only way to break with the entrenched practices of decades of abuse under Colonel Gaddafi’s authoritarian rule is to ensure that nobody is above the law and that investigations are carried out into such abuses."

According to the report, African migrants and refugees have also been targeted, and revenge attacks have been carried out, forcibly displacing entire communities, "while the authorities have done nothing to investigate the abuses and hold those responsible to account."

The report is based on findings from a research visit to Libya in January and February, during which delegates met detention administrators, hospital staff, doctors, lawyers, detainees, former detainees, relatives of people killed or abused in detention, as well as representatives of the authorities.

Under pressure from civilians, Libya's interim government faces a tough task to disarm hundreds of former rebels who toppled Gaddafi’s regime.

"It is imperative that the Libyan authorities firmly demonstrate their commitment to turning the page on decades of systematic violations by reining in the militias, investigating all past and present abuses and prosecuting those responsible," said Rovera.

Read more on:    amnesty international  |  libya  |  north africa

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