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Libya challenged on treatment of detainees

October 13, 2011 | 10:01 am

Amnesty International has denounced the "arbitrary detention and widespread abuse of detainees" in Libya
REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- Amnesty International has denounced the "arbitrary detention and widespread abuse of detainees" in Libya after Moammar Kadafi's ouster.

In its 24-page report, "Detention Abuses Staining the New Libya," the rights group says there is "clear evidence of torture in order to extract confessions or as a punishment."

Last month, Human Rights Watch found similar abuses and called on Libya's interim leaders to "work to stop militia groups from making arbitrary arrests and abusing detainees."

The charges represent a steep challenge for Libya's new leaders, who have vowed to institute a democratic government to replace Kadafi's authoritarian regime. Arbitrary imprisonment of suspected dissidents was long a characteristic of Kadafi's police state.

With Kadafi overthrown, but no strong central  government yet in place, various militias appear to operate quasi-independently in Libya, complicating the process of restoring order. Some militias also appear to have rival agendas.

Since rebels entered Tripoli in March, there have been reports of widespread illegal detentions, especially of dark-skinned Libyans and sub-Saharan Africans. Rights activists have said that Libyan rebels often mistook African migrant workers for mercenaries.

-- Patrick J. McDonnell

ALSO: 

NATO divided on end to Libya air war

Libya fighters find scenes of despair in Surt hospital

Many in Surt, Libya, don't trust revolutionary forces

Photo: Fighters take Moammar Kadafi loyalists prisoner after they were found hiding in a hospital in Kadafi's hometown of Surt on Sunday. Credit: Thaier al-Sudani / Reuters

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