Annual Report: Libya 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Libya 2013

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Arbitrary arrests and detentions

In May, the NTC passed Law 38 on Procedures relating to the Transitional Period, giving the Ministries for the Interior and Defence no more than 60 days to refer cases of detainees held by armed militias to civilian or military prosecutors. Despite this, thousands of people alleged to have supported or fought for al-Gaddafi's government remained in the custody of militias and semi-official security bodies. Although over 30 prisons were officially transferred to the Department of the Judicial Police, and in December the Ministry of Justice devised a strategy to resume effective control of prisons, militiamen continued working as guards or administrators in many prisons. Most detainees held in connection with the 2011 armed conflict had not been charged or tried by the end of 2012. Some were denied family visits; very few had access to lawyers.

Armed militias continued to seize or abduct individuals they suspected of having supported or fought for al-Gaddafi's government, taking them from their homes, workplaces, streets or checkpoints. Many were immediately beaten and had their homes looted and damaged. Members of communities deemed to have supported Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi, notably Tawarghas, were especially vulnerable. Detainees were frequently moved from one makeshift place of detention to another before being transferred to official or semi-official prisons or detention centres, at which point relatives could discover their whereabouts. The fate and whereabouts of some individuals abducted by militias remained unknown.

  • Bashir Abdallah Badaoui, the former head of the Tripoli Criminal Investigations Department, and his son Hossam Bashir Abdallah, aged 19, were abducted by armed militiamen on 13 April near their Tripoli home. Hossam Bashir Abdallah was released after five days, but his father's whereabouts remained unknown despite his family's efforts to find him.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Torture and other ill-treatment remained widespread, particularly in detention facilities controlled by militias, and were used to punish detainees and extract “confessions”. Detainees were especially vulnerable during arrest, in their first days of detention and during interrogation. Many signed “confessions” under torture or duress. Article 2 of Law 38 of 2012 gave legal weight to interrogation records of armed militias, at the discretion of judges.

Many detainees were subjected to sustained beatings with hoses, rifle butts, electric cables, water pipes or belts, often while suspended in contorted positions. Some were tortured with electric shocks, burned with cigarettes or heated metal, scalded with boiling water, threatened with murder or rape and subjected to mock execution. Tens of detainees died in the custody of militias, the SSC and in official prisons in circumstances suggesting that torture contributed to or caused their deaths.