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UN Finds Torture Widespread In Libya

By PETER JAMES SPIELMANN
Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Torture is widespread in Libyan jails since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi's regime in late 2011, United Nations investigators said.

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.

"Torture is illegal, under any circumstances, with no exceptions," UN. High Commissioner for Human rights Navi Pillay said on releasing the report.

Torture "is most frequent immediately upon arrest and during the first days of interrogation as a means to extract confessions or other information," it found.

Some 8,000 detainees jailed since the civil war in 2011 are held without due process. The report says "detainees are usually held without access to lawyers and occasional access to families, if any."

The U.N. investigators had periodic access to various detention centers, the report said. It found 27 deaths in custody that appeared to indicate the person had been tortured to death, 11 of then recorded this year. They had other reports of deaths that it had been unable to verify. Eleven of the deaths took place this year, the report said.

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.

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