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Saturday 15th of December 2018

Press Room

Report: Children unlawfully detained in Libya, held with adults in inhumane conditions

Tuesday 24th of April 2018
Juvenile Justice in the world

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in cooperation with the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), published a report on April 10th which denounces the situation of thousands of men, women and children held in prolonged arbitrary and unlawful detention across the country, based on their tribal or family links and perceived political affiliations.


In October 2017, some 6,500 people were estimated to be held in official prisons overseen by the Judicial Police of the Ministry of Justice, while thousands more are held in a multitude of other facilities nominally under the Ministries of Interior or Defence or run directly by armed groups.

The report highlights human rights violations or abuses which are endemic in these detention facilities, denouncing cases of torture, unlawful killing, denial of adequate medical treatment and poor detention conditions.

In some cases, these conditions are so inhumane that they amount to torture and other ill-treatment. Detainees are crammed into small cells lacking light and ventilation, and without adequate washing and sanitation facilities. Some are placed in prolonged solitary confinement in cells that are so small there is no room to stretch out their legs. In some cases, poor detention conditions, coupled with medical neglect, lead to deaths, including from otherwise treatable conditions. Children are held together with adults in similarly squalid conditions, in contravention of international standards.

Individuals detained by armed groups across the country, including those under the nominal oversight of the State, are not informed of their rights or granted them. Most have never appeared in front of courts. Instead, members of armed groups, and in rarer cases prosecutors, carry out the interrogations without the presence of defence lawyers.

Findings in this report are based on first-hand accounts and other information gathered by OHCHR/UNSMIL from a broad range of sources inside Libya, visits to prisons and other detention facilities, review of legal and medical documents, and analysis of photographic and audio-visual evidence.

The report calls on the authorities to publicly and unequivocally condemn torture, ill-treatment and executions of those detained, and ensure accountability for such crimes.

Source: 'Abuse behind bars' UNHCR report. Photo: UNHCR/Iason Foounten


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  • International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO). Belgian Public Utility Foundation

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  • Head Office: Rue Mercelis, nº 50. 1050. Brussels. Belgium

    Phone: 00 32 262 988 90. Fax: 00 32 262 988 99. oijj@oijj.org

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