Amnesty International has said there is evidence that thousands of detainees who fought for ousted Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi have been “tortured and ill-treated” by rebel forces over recent months.
In a report released Thursday, the human rights group urged Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC) to tackle the “stain” of arbitrary detention and detainee abuse.
“We understand that the transitional authorities are facing many challenges, but if they do not make a clear break with the past now, they will effectively be sending out a message that treating detainees like this is to be tolerated in the new Libya,” Amnesty said.
It said African migrants and black Libyans suspected of fighting as mercenaries for Gaddafi had been particularly targeted. Amnesty said the TNC had pledged to look into the claims.
The report, entitled Detention Abuses Staining the New Libya, is based on interviews with some 300 prisoners visited by Amnesty in 11 detention facilities around the country from mid-August to the middle of September.
Amnesty said it had found “a pattern of torture and abuse” of suspected Gaddafi loyalists, as well as soldiers and African migrants suspected of being mercenaries.
“In some cases there is clear evidence of torture in order to extract confessions or as a punishment,” the report said.
It said that researchers had found torture instruments in one detention facility, and also had heard whipping and screaming sounds in another prison.