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UN raises concern over 'Libyan militias, detention of Gaddafi loyalists'

January 26, 2012 - London

The United Nations has expressed concern over Libyan militias being out of control and holding thousands of people hostage at secret detention centres, even as the weak interim government struggles to assert its authority.

UN Security Council officials said that over 8,000 pro-Gaddafi supporters are being held by militia groups, amid reports of torture.

UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay has raised concerns about the detainees being held by revolutionary forces, saying there were some 8,500 prisoners in about 60 centres.

"The majority of detainees are accused of being Gaddafi loyalists and include a large number of sub-saharan, African nationals," The BBC quoted Pillay, as saying.

"The lack of oversight by the central authority creates an environment conducive to torture and ill treatment. My staff have received alarming reports that this is happening in places of detention they have visited," she added.

Meanwhile, the UN's Libya envoy, Ian Martin, said that the recent clashes between armed residents of Bani Walid and revolutionaries had been misreported as pro-Gaddafi forces retaking the city.

He said that it highlighted the challenge of reconciling the former leader's supporters and the rebels that had defeated them.

"The former regime may have been toppled, but the harsh reality is that the Libyan people continue to have to live with its deep-rooted legacy," Martin said.

According to the report, Martin described that legacy as "weak, at times absent, state institutions, coupled with the long absence of political parties and civil society organisations, which render the country's transition more difficult."


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