Reports of Libyan detainee torture drive Doctors Without Borders away | World | Breaking news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 27.01.2012

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World

Reports of Libyan detainee torture drive Doctors Without Borders away

Allegations of torture at Libyan detention centers from two international humanitarian organizations have cast the country's transitional government in a poor light.

A man with whip scarring on his back

Signs of torture are being seen on Libyan detainees

Doctors Without Borders (MSF, Medecins Sans Frontieres) has suspended its operations in detention centers in the Libyan city of Misrata because detainees are being tortured and denied urgent medical care, the international medical humanitarian organization said in a statement Thusday.

MSF has been operating in Misrata detention centers since August of last year, and the organization reports that there have been repeated cases of detainees brought in for medical care who had signs of being tortured. The torture allegedly took place at locations outside the detention facilities.

"Patients were brought to us in the middle of interrogation for medical care, in order make them fit for further interrogation," said MSF's general director Christopher Stokes. "This is unacceptable. Our role is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not to repeatedly treat the same patients between torture sessions."

MSF said it will continue to work in schools and health facilities in Misrata.

Similar reports from Amnesty International

The organization's decision to end its operations in detention centers coincides with a report from Amnesty International that contains similar allegations of torture at detention centers. Some cases of torture have even led to the deaths of some detainees, Amnesty said in a statement on Thursday, adding that the victims were often supporters of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Men holding guns

The NTC is trying to unite the country

Amnesty interviewed several detainees who it says are being tortured by "officially recognized military and security entities as well by a multitude of armed militias operating outside any legal framework."

"We are not aware of any proper investigations into cases of torture, and neither the survivors or relatives of those who have died in detention have had any recourse to justice or redress for what they have suffered," said Donatella Rovera, the organization's senior crisis response adviser.

Lack of official response

Amnesty has called on authorities in Libya to put a stop to the torture policies and to investigate cases that have already occurred.

"So far there has been a complete failure on the part of those in power to take concrete steps to end torture and other ill-treatment of detainees and to hold accountable those responsible for such crimes," said Rovera.

There has not yet been an official response from Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC), although Libyan Justice Minister Ali H'mida Ashur told the AFP news agency that "when such complaints reach the general prosecutor or the military prosecutor, necessary action will be taken."

Libya's Western-backed interim government in is in the middle of the difficult task of restoring political and social order after the death of Gadhafi in October.

Author: Matt Zuvela
Editor: Andy Valvur

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