"Armed groups in Libya, including those affiliated with the State, hold thousands of people in prolonged arbitrary and unlawful detention, and submit them to torture and other human rights violations and abuses," the OHCHR said in a statement summarizing its report on the main human rights concerns regarding detention in Libya between December 2015, when the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) was signed by the Lybian parties, and January 2018.
Various armed groups in Libya have been detaining suspected opponents, as well as critics, activists, medical professionals, journalists, and politicians since the situation in Libya started escalating again in 2014, the statement noted.
"Rather than reining in armed groups and integrating their members under State command and control structures, successive Libyan governments have increasingly relied on them for law enforcement, including arrests and detention; paid them salaries; and provided them with equipment and uniforms … As a result, their power has grown unchecked and they have remained free of effective government oversight," the document stated.
As of October, around 6,500 individuals are estimated to be held in official prisons, while thousands of others are known to be detained in the facilities of armed groups which are "notorious for endemic torture and other human rights violations or abuses," the statement noted.
There are individuals connected to the 2011 military conflict in the African country among those who had been arbitrarily or illegally detained without charge, trial, or sentence in Libya for years, the document added. Moreover, ransom and hostage-taking for prisoner exchanges are common in the country, the statement read.
The report was produced by the OHCHR in collaboration with the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 civil war which resulted in the overthrow of the country’s longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, and various parts of the country being governed by different forces.
The LPA outlined the creation of the Government of National Accord (GNA) as the interim Libyan government. The United Nations praised the accord, recognized GNA as the only legitimate Libyan government, and called on its member states to cease giving support to or having official contacts with parallel institutions.
However, the deal’s provisions have not been fully implemented so far due to existing contradictions between the Libyan parties.