UN report says thousands are detained in Libya outside state control

Thousands of people in Libya remain locked up in militia prisons, outside of state control, more than two years after the revolution, according to a new UN report presented to the Security Council.

The report says many are suffering torture and mistreatment and calls the situation “unacceptable”.

“We have a big problem. But it is a problem we are trying to tackle,” Libya’s Justice Minister Salah Marghani said after the report’s release.

“We haven’t given up. Even though the circumstances are challenging, we’re still pushing to improve the situation.”

The report estimates the number of conflict-related detainees is around 8,000, some held in facilities only “nominally” under the authority of the justice or defence ministries, and the rest by “armed brigades not affiliated with the State in any form.”

“I remain deeply concerned at the slow and insufficient progress in the transfer of detainees from the custody of armed brigades to the State,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon’s report, which updates the Security Council on the UN Support Mission in Libya.

The UN says it has gathered evidence suggesting that at least 10 deaths in custody this year were due to torture and that no one has yet been held accountable. It also says there is evidence of continuing torture in both government institutions and prisons beyond government control, something humanitarian organizations working in Libya back up.

“Right now, the only factor significantly bringing down the number of detainees being mistreated and tortured is the number of mass prison breaks that are taking place,” said Amnesty International researcher Magda Mughrabi.

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