Three months after the killing of Muammar Gaddafi, concerns are mounting about the mistreatment and torture of prisoners held by Libyan militiamen who are operating beyond the control of the country’s transitional government, as well as by officially recognised security bodies.
Libyan and foreign experts highlight the difficulties of disarming and integrating militia units while there has been so little progress at the political level. Tripoli residents say the militiamen are now less visible than before, but still prone to turf wars that often spin out of control.
Peter Cole of the International Crisis Group said: “The NTC and government have started distributing application forms to the militias encouraging them to join the army and security services, but they are undermined by excluding the militias from the political process and dialogue. They are clear that they will keep their weapons and run their own affairs until such a time as they judge the government to be performing well. This will make it much harder for the government and international community to clamp down on things like prisoner abuse, which is an issue that will fester over time and make social integration that much harder.”