The United Nations mission for Libya has expressed its concern to the country’s authorities over the recent deaths of three people in a detention centre in the north-western city of Misrata, saying it believes that the deaths were the result of torture.
The detainees died on 13 April in the Zaroug detention centre, which is controlled by a committee under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said in a statement, in which it added that it had raised the concerns at the highest levels of the North African country’s authorities.
UNSMIL said it has also taken note of the cases of at least seven other people who were tortured in the same detention facility. There have also been allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees held by armed brigades in other detention centres, particularly in the capital, Tripoli, and in the towns of Zawiya, Zintan and Misrata.
The mission also voiced concern over the reported existence of some secret detention facilities run by the “brigades” and where detainees are at risk of torture.
It urged the Libyan Government to take immediate and concrete measures to address the situation, including conducting thorough investigations and bringing those responsible to justice.
An effective internal inspection mechanism covering all places where people are deprived of their liberty should be established, the mission added.
UNSMIL welcomed a statement by the Supreme Security Committee of Misrata condemning the abuses and voicing support for investigations that will be followed by appropriate legal action, and it recognized the difficulties the Libyan Government faces in transferring responsibility for detainees to the proper State authorities.
“UNSMIL acknowledges that progress, albeit slow, has been made in this regard,” it said in the statement “Nevertheless, with a view to the absolute prohibition of torture under international law, UNSMIL calls upon the Government to make addressing these allegations and practices a top priority in pursuit of a new culture of respect for human rights and the rule of law in post-revolution Libya.”
Briefing the Security Council in January, the head of UNSMIL, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ian Martin, said security remains a major concern in Libya.
Clashes in different parts of the country highlighted the risks associated with the abundance of weapons and the diverse armed “brigades” operating with unclear lines of command and control.