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MSF, Amnesty accuse Libyan authorities of torture

Medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders is suspending its operations at Misrata detention centres over the claims.

Image: AP Photo/Gaia Anderson/PA Images

THE AID AGENCY Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) has announced it is suspending its operations at detention centres in the Libyan city of Misrata amid concern over the abuse of prisoners.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International says that several pro-Gaddafi detainees have been tortured and killed while in custody.

MSF had been treating war-wounded detainees in Misrata detention facilities since August, but the organisation said yesterday that its doctors had treated 115 people for torture-related wounds they believe were inflicted during interrogation.

It reported the cases to the relevant Libyan officials and said a number of patients needed to be transferred from the facilities for urgent care, but says that several of those treated had been returned to the interrogation centres and were tortured again.

MSF general director Christopher Stokes accused Libyan officials of seeking to “exploit and obstruct MSF’s medical work”:

Patients were brought to us in the middle of interrogation for medical care, in order to make them fit for further interrogation. This is unacceptable. Our role is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not to repeatedly treat the same patients between torture sessions.

Stokes says that despite lodging complaints with Libyan authorities, “no concrete action has been taken” and MSF received four new torture cases.

Amnesty yesterday accused Libya’s military and security units of perpetrating torture against detainees, as well as groups of armed militias who are operating outside a legal framework.

Amnesty’s senior crisis response advisor Donatella Rovera said that despite pledges “to get detention centres under control, it is horrifying to find that there has been no progress in stopping torture.”

“We are not aware of any proper investigations into cases of torture, and neither the survivors nor the relatives of those who have died in detention have been able to get justice for what happened to them,” she added.

The organisation said it has seen medical evidence that supports detainees’ claims of abuse and torture, and says that several detainees have died in circumstances that suggest torture.

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