Libyan armed militias ‘have stranglehold on country’

Telegraph – 5th Jul 2012

Amnesty International said that Libya risked repeating the violations that led to the uprising that removed the dictator after 42 years in power last August.

On Saturday, Libyans will chose a congress to appoint a cabinet and a body to draft a new constitution.

But the transitional authorities, Amnesty said, have not only failed to control militias, but effectively granted them immunity from prosecution in the name of protecting the revolution.

The human rights group’s 72-page report documents dozens of cases of arbitrary arrest, long-term detention, beatings, abuse and torture of anyone suspected of loyalty to Gaddafi.

It visited 15 unofficial prisons and spoke to a former government employee, who was arrested with her sister in the east of the country in February.

She was taken to a farm where she was suspended from a door for hours, had boiling water poured over her head and was beaten and stabbed.

Her sister was also badly beaten while the husband has disappeared. She was released without charge.

“It is deeply depressing that the authorities have failed so comprehensively to break the grip of the militias on Libyan security,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty’s deputy director for northern Africa.

Militias vary in size from gangs guarding neighbourhoods to small de facto armies of the sort in Zintan that is holding Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam and which detained an International Criminal Court lawyer and her translator for a month after they visited him.

They often take their names from comrades killed in the conflict against the late dictator and boast that in the absence of a strong central authority they alone can guarantee security.

Operating above the law, militia raids on suspects often involve theft of cash, gold, cars and anything they can lay their hands on, said Diana Eltahawy, the author of the report.

Most are refusing to disarm or join the national army or police force. The ministry of interior told Amnesty that it had dismantled just four militias in Tripoli.

“What needs to change is that the government needs to at least admit what is happening. They refuse to admit how widespread these practices are. If they don’t control it, it will be a very, very difficult culture to change,” she said.

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One Response to Libyan armed militias ‘have stranglehold on country’

  1. Kodok says:

    in justification of the Iraq war, as well as Afghanistan. One would eepxct that someone named oil wars would understand that when the US intervenes in a country it ends up placing in power (and later propping up) whatever faction that serves US interests and will do our bidding for us. Nothing could be more evident in the current wave of protests against US-backed leaders across the region. Now you’d like to put another US-backed regime in place? As far as your pathetic examples go, you show you don’t even know basic history. For example, the US intervention in Vietnam was wrong as it (the US) REJECTED open and free elections as North Vietnam proposed be held for both North and South Vietnam to unify the country under one DEMOCRATIC government. What?!?! You mean the US rejected elections because they knew the wrong side was going to win?? Wow, thanks for giving me a history lesson. But we all know that the US would act completely different in Libya right? They’d put the right side in power, wouldn’t they OW?Thanks for proving my point. US intervention ends in disaster because the US prevents self-determination, just as your example shows in Vietnam. Why would it be any different in Libya?

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