UN rights chief decries 'endemic' abuses after vist to Libya

2017-10-13 11:25
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. (Fabrice Coffrini, AFP)

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. (Fabrice Coffrini, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Geneva - The UN human rights chief warned on Thursday that serious violations were "endemic" in many detention centres in Libya, but said he was "optimistic" that authorities were intent on improving the situation.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who this week became the first UN rights chief to make an official visit to Libya, welcomed commitments he received from authorities, including Prime Minister Fayez Serraj, and the ministers of Justice and Interior, to address a wide range of abuses.

But he warned that "the human rights situation in Libya continues to be marked by widespread abuses and violations perpetrated by all sides to the conflict with complete impunity".

Libya has plunged into chaos since the overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with dozens of armed factions, filling the power vacuum.

Migrants

The country has also become the main launchpad for African migrants trying to reach Europe across the Mediterranean in boats operated by smugglers, but many of the migrants are also detained in the country, reportedly in horrific conditions.

In addition to his meetings with members of Libya's government, Zeid said he had met with civil society and women's human rights groups, and had visited one of the country's main prisons and a camp for displaced people during his one-day visit on Tuesday.

"Thousands of people are held arbitrarily in detention centres across the country, some since the 2011 armed conflict, many subjected to torture and ill-treatment," he said.

"Armed groups unlawfully kill and hold hostage civilians and combatants. Civilian men, women and children are killed and injured every week by the indiscriminate use of weapons," he added.

'Horrific'

Zeid especially stressed the "horrific" reports emerging from a number of detention centres, including the Mitigia detention centre.

"The situation there needs to be addressed urgently, as do other facilities where abuses are endemic," he warned.

Zeid acknowledged that "the large-scale near-collapse in the justice system, the power and influence of armed groups, and the many challenges faced by the government are real".

But he insisted that there was still much the government could do to improve the situation, urging it to "halt the practice of arbitrary detention, and to ensure accountability for the abuses perpetrated against migrants in detention centres".

He said authorities had told him one of the detention centres in Surman, where there have been serious allegations of sexual abuse, had been closed, stressing that his office was working with the government to confirm that this was the case.

"The human rights challenges in Libya are massive, but they are not insurmountable," Zeid said.

Read more on:    un  |  libya  |  migrants  |  north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.