'The lack of oversight by the central authority creates an environment conducive to torture and ill-treatment'
Navi Pillay, UN Commissioner for Human Rights, 26 January 2012
Lawlessness still pervades Libya a year after the outbreak of the uprising which ended 42 year of Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s repressive regime. Hundreds of armed militias, widely hailed in Libya as heroes for their role in toppling the former regime, are largely out of control. Their actions, and the refusal of many to disarm or join regular forces, are threatening to destabilize Libya, hinder the much-needed building of accountable state institutions based on the rule of law, and jeopardize the hopes of millions of people who took to the streets a year ago to demand freedom, justice and respect for human rights and dignity.
Hundreds of armed militia groups, established at local levels during the fighting, continue to operate largely independently of the central authorities, often effectively controlling specific areas or neighbourhoods. Some militia members have a military background but most were civilians. Militias have established sometimes fluid networks of co-operation. Frequent armed clashes between different militia groups have caused death and injury among fighters and uninvolved bystanders.