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Amnesty fact-finding mission to Libya uncovers torture, killings

Staff said they found evidence of electric shocks and beatings with bars, chains and cables.

illegal African immigrants and suspected mercenaries stand at a barred door in a prison in Gherian, Libya last February
illegal African immigrants and suspected mercenaries stand at a barred door in a prison in Gherian, Libya last February
Image: Manu Brabo/AP/Press Association Images

AS MANY AS 20 prisoners may have been tortured to death in Libya over the past 11 months, according to Amnesty International.

Staff on a fact-finding mission to 15 detention centres across the country suggested militias are repeating the same abuses of the Gaddafi regime against the former leader’s supporters and mercenary fighters.

It is estimated that some 4,000 people are being held in official prisons and detention centres run by armed militias and semi-official security and military bodies.

The report published this morning, Libya: rule of law or rule of militias?, shows that many of these prisoners have been tortured. Others who have escaped prison have been forced from their homes.

During the visits throughout May and June, the mission found evidence of beatings and other abuse in 12 of the 15 detention centres. Common methods of torture reported included electric shocks, suspension in contorted positions and prolonged beatings with metal bars, chains, electric cables, sticks, plastic hoses, water pipes and rifle-butts.

The group also has detailed information about 20 deaths in custody as a result of torture by militias since last August.

According to Amnesty, many of those responsible for unlawful killings have not been brought to justice, “casting a shadow over the country’s first national elections since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi”.

As the central government in Tripoli continues to grapple for control, hundreds of militia men are refusing to disarm or to join the national army or police force. The Ministry of the Interior told the organisation that it has only been able to dismantle four groups in the capital.

“It is deeply depressing that after so many months, the authorities have failed to break the stranglehold of the militias on Libyan security,” said Colm O’Gorman, executive director of the Ireland branch of Amnesty. “Ordinary Libyans are the ones paying the price.”

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Hasna’s story

Amnesty International’s latest report published Hasna’s story in full. reproduces it here:

Hasna Sheeb, aged 31, was accused of being an Gaddafi loyalist. She was detained in October last year. During her detention she was given electric shocks, beaten, whipped until she lost consciousness and had urine poured over her. The guards threatened to rape her mother if she did not confess.

Hasna was released without charge after three days and has since submitted complaints through a range of channels. She was examined by a forensic pathologist, whose report corroborated her testimony.

No meaningful action appears to have been taken to investigate her complaint. Instead she has received a string of anonymous threatening phones calls, as well as a call in June from the person who arrested her. In March, her flat was fired on by unknown attackers in the middle of the night.

(via AmnestyInternational/Youtube)

More: International Criminal Court staff released by Libyan authorities

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