Annual Report: Libya 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Libya 2013

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  • Tawarghan former police officer, Tarek Milad Youssef al-Rifa'i, died on 19 August after being taken from Wehda Prison to the SSC in Misratah for questioning. He had been seized from his Tripoli home in October 2011 by armed militiamen from Misratah. His relatives found his bruised body at a Misratah morgue; a forensic report indicated that his death was caused by beatings. His family lodged a complaint with the authorities but no proper investigation into his death was begun.
  • The family of Ahmed Ali Juma' found his body at a Tripoli morgue several days after he was summoned for questioning by the Abu Salim Military Council in July. A forensic report identified “multiple bruises on the body, on the head, on the torso and the limbs and genitals” and concluded that he was “beaten to death”. No one was held to account for his death.

Armed confrontations

Sporadic clashes between armed militias resulted in deaths and injuries to bystanders and residents as well as fighters. Such confrontations were widespread, occurring at Kufra in February, April and June, at Sabha in March, in the Nafousa/Western Mountain area in June, at Barak al-Shat in September, and in Bani Walid in October. Militia fighters fired weapons such as Grad rockets, mortars and anti-aircraft machine guns in residential areas, causing casualties and damaging or destroying property. In June, armed militias were reported to have used white phosphorus in Sgeiga despite the threat this posed to residents.

Following weeks of siege and an armed assault on Bani Walid by the army and militias that ended on 24 October, officials said 22 people had been killed, although the true total was believed to be higher. The dead included residents of Bani Walid who were not involved in the fighting, including children. For example, nine-year-old Mohamed Mustafa Mohamed Fathallah died from shrapnel injuries sustained when his home was shelled on 10 October. On 30 October, then Defence Minister Ossama Jweili claimed that the army was not in control of the situation and alleged widespread abuses by militias.

The authorities appointed fact-finding committees to investigate some armed clashes, but by the end of the year none of their results were made public, no perpetrators were brought to justice and no victims had received reparation.

Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants

Despite guarantees contained in Libya's Constitutional Declaration, promulgated in August 2011, to recognize the right to seek and enjoy asylum, the government failed to ratify the UN Refugee Convention, sign a memorandum of understanding with UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, or adopt asylum legislation.

Armed militias and police continued to arbitrarily detain undocumented foreign nationals, including individuals in need of international protection, for alleged migration-related “offences”, such as entering the country “irregularly”. At the end of the year, thousands were detained indefinitely, pending deportation, in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions in detention centres. They had no means of challenging the legality of their detention or their treatment and conditions. Suspected irregular migrants faced habitual verbal abuse, beatings and other ill-treatment, in some cases amounting to torture, in detention. At least two foreign nationals died in custody at the hands of militias.

  • On 13 September, a group of Nigerian women held at the Tweisha detention centre in Tripoli received sustained beatings with hoses and other objects by around 11 men in plain clothes. Some women were given electric shocks. The authorities took no action against the men responsible.

Internally displaced people

The authorities took no real steps to facilitate the safe return to their homes of entire communities forcibly displaced during the 2011 conflict, including residents of Tawargha, Mashashiya, Gawalish and other areas perceived to have supported Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi. Armed militias wrought further destruction in these areas to render them uninhabitable and arbitrarily detained and abused people from these communities, especially Tawarghas.