TORTURE AND DEATHS IN DETENTION IN LIBYA
Torture and other ill-treatment in Libya is an on-going and widespread concern in many detention centres, despite the efforts of the Libyan authorities which are committed at the highest level to ending torture and to ensuring the proper functioning of the criminal justice system.
Since 2012 the Government has sought to bring under the authority of the State the armed brigades which emerged during the 2011 armed conflict, and which are in control of most detention facilities where torture takes place. The Government has affiliated brigades to specific ministries, even though in many cases the brigades have retained actual control of the detention centres. In April 2013 Libya also adopted a law criminalizing torture, enforced disappearances and discrimination and in September 2013 a new law on transitional justice requires all conflict-related detainees to be released or referred to the public prosecutor within 90 days of the promulgation of the law.
However, torture continues today in Libya. It is most frequent immediately upon arrest and during the first days of interrogation as a means to extract confessions or other information. Detainees are usually held without access to lawyers and occasional access to families, if any. The vast majority of an estimated 8,000 conflict-related detainees is also held without due process.
From late 2011, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has recorded 27 cases of deaths in custody where there is significant information to suggest that torture was the cause, and is aware of allegations about additional cases which it has not been able to fully investigate. Eleven of the 27 cases, detailed in this report, took place in 2013, all in detention centres under the nominal authority of the Government but effectively under the authority of armed brigades.
The current situation of prolonged detention and interrogation at the hands of armed brigades without experience or training in the handling of detainees or in conducting criminal investigations, and no effective judicial oversight, is a major factor in facilitating the torture or other ill-treatment of detainees. On the other hand, UNSMIL has observed that a proper handover of detention facilities to experienced and trained officers of the Judicial Police usually results in improved conditions as well as better treatment of detainees.