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Armed militias in Libya are 'out of control', one year after uprising

A report by Amnesty International found torture, killings and war crimes are being carried out by the armed militas in Libya.

Libyan militias parade through Tripoli yesterday celebrating the one year anniversary of the uprising
Libyan militias parade through Tripoli yesterday celebrating the one year anniversary of the uprising
Image: AP Photo / Abdel Magid Al Fergany

ARMED MILITAS ARE committing widespread human rights abuses in Libya, including torture and killings, one year after the beginning of the uprising against the Gaddafi regime.

A report by Amnesty International out today has found evidence of war crimes with people being unlawfully detained and tortured. In some cases people have died as a result of torture.

Today marks one year since the start of the Libyan uprising.

“Militas in Libya are largely out of control,” said Noeleen Hartigan, programmes director of Amnesty International Ireland. “The lack of a response from the authorities only encourages them to carry out further abuses”.

Delegates from Amnesty visited 11 detention facilities used by different milita groups in Libya in January and early February.  At all but one of the locations, detainees said they had been tortured or ill-treated, and had evidence of the injuries resulting from the abuse.

At least 12 detainees held by militias have died after being tortured since last September. Amnesty found that their bodies were covered in bruises, wounds, and cuts, and some had had their nails pulled off.

Detainees said that they had been suspended in stress positions, beaten with whips and wooden sticks, and given electric shocks with live wires.

No investigations have been carried out into the human rights abuses.

“Militias with a record of abuse of detainees should simply not be allowed to hold anyone,” said Hartigan.

Disputes between rival groups

The anti-Gaddafi National Transition Council assumed power after the killing of Gaddafi in October, and appointed a caretaker cabinet in December. Parliamentary elections are due to be held in April.

However there have been disputes between rival groups since Gaddafi’s death leading to outbreaks of violence.

“A year ago Libyans risked their lives for freedom and justice. Today their hopes are being jeopardised by lawless armed militias,” said Noeleen Hartigan.

The only way to break with the decades of abuse under colonel al-Gaddafi’s authoritarian rule is to ensure that nobody is above the law.

Libya calls for extradition of Gaddafi son >

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