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Black Libyans torture probe call

19 April 2012, 18:56

Tripoli - Libya's interim government must probe the torture of members of a dark-skinned community imprisoned by militias in the city of Misrata, a rights group said on Thursday, reporting a new death.

The ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) "must act immediately to investigate and prosecute abuses against the Tawarga community of black Libyans," said Amnesty International.

"Another Tawarga man was tortured to death in a Misrata detention centre," it said, adding that he died in the custody of Misrata's security committee which was created by the city's elected local council.

The watchdog said it has documented more than a dozen deaths in custody at the hands of armed militias since September 2011 and widespread torture of those suspected of backing slain leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"A high proportion of the victims were Tawargas," it added.

Members of the dark-skinned Tawarga community are accused of standing by Gaddafi and committing crimes during the siege and shelling of the city of Misrata last year.

They are now a focal point of revenge attacks, rights groups report.

In August, militias from Misrata drove out the entire population of neighbouring Tawarga, a town of 30 000 people, looting and burning down their homes, Amnesty recalled.

Tawargans hunted down

"Since then, armed militias from Misrata have been hunting down Tawargans across Libya, snatching Tawarga men from camps for displaced people, homes, checkpoints and even hospitals," the group said.

"Those abducted are brought back to detention centres in Misrata where they are routinely tortured, in some cases to death," it added.

Amnesty said it had documented two fresh arrests this week and that hundreds of Tawargas are believed to be detained by militias in Misrata.

"It is imperative that the NTC now reins in these militias, investigates all abuses and prosecutes those responsible," said Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa deputy director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

On Wednesday, International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said that he would visit Misrata to carry out investigations there.

New-York based Human Rights Watch on April 8 warned Misrata's leaders that they could be held legally accountable by the ICC for crimes committed by militias under their command.



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