U.N. finds torture widespread in Libya

UNITED NATIONS — Torture is widespread in Libyan jails run by militias that toppled Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in 2011, according to a United Nations report released Tuesday.

U.N. investigators, who had periodic access to various detention centers, said there is evidence that 27 people have been tortured to death in the prisons, 11 of them this year, according to a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the U.N. Support Mission in Libya.

The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the U.N. Support Mission in Libya said in a report released Tuesday that the problem is rampant in jails run by militias that triumphed in the eight-month civil war in 2011.

“In some cases, members of the armed brigades freely admitted, and even tried to justify, the physical abuse of detainees,” the report said.

Last month, Libya adopted a new law that requires conflict-related detainees to be screened and processed within 90 days.

Conditions are improving for detainees held in prisons run by officers trained by Libya’s Judicial Police, the report found. But many detention centers are still run by militias that have links to particular Libyan government ministries.

The U.N. investigators urged the Libyan government to accelerate the process of taking over the militia-run jails and installing trained police and corrections officers.

Some 8,000 detainees jailed since the eight-month civil war in 2011 are held without due process, the report said. They are usually held without access to lawyers and have only occasional access to families, the investigators found.

Torture “is most frequent immediately upon arrest and during the first days of interrogation as a means to extract confessions or other information,” the report said.

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