Human rights violations, torture and enforced disappearances are not new to Haftar’s militias, which carry out these actions in the areas under their control, and perhaps the last of these violations was of the recently released Italian and Tunisian fishermen after more than 100 days they spent detained by Haftar’s militia in Benghazi.
The Italian press reported on its pages the ill-treatment and torture of the Italian fishermen who were arrested by Haftar’s militias last September, and some fishermen even gave their testimony about what they saw in the prison of overcrowding of political prisoners and intellectuals, some of whom had no clear charge. Some of them died under torture.
Testimonies from inside prisons
The Italian media reported a number of testimonies of fishermen, including Tunisians, who revealed the extent of the abuses that occurred in the prison and the legal abuses committed against the Libyan civilian prisoners they met in Benghazi.
The Italian “Aki” agency published the account of one of the released Tunisian fishermen, called Jamal Farhat, who was being held with 17 Italian fishermen by Haftar’s militia in Benghazi, as saying: The detainees he met in Benghazi prison are being beaten and tortured.
And according to the testimony of another Tunisian fisherman, Al-Hadi Bin Thamer, he confirmed that there are many intellectuals, professors and scientists with them in prison who were subjected to ill-treatment, and they were arrested without reason, calling on the world to intervene, to release them.
The Italian website “Sardina” reported that the captain of the released fishing vessel was severely beaten by members of Haftar’s militia, resulting in sporadic injuries to his face and foot.
An Italian parliamentarian accused the government of lying about the situation of the fishermen and the conditions of their detention, saying: They lived through very difficult, horrific and dangerous situations, according to the AKI agency.
The report of the United Nations experts has previously documented during the past years the extent of the violations committed by Haftar’s militias against their opponents, as these reports counted more than 6,500 detainees in Haftar’s well-known and secret prisons, many of whom were arrested on political, economic or religious charges without trials, and they suffer from Illegal deprivation of freedom and torture, which in many cases resulted in deaths.
Some of them are still missing, and the bodies of others were found dumped in Al-Zait Street in Benghazi, while Haftar’s militia confiscated the properties and homes of the detainees. Their families were forced to flee Benghazi.
Human Rights Watch has also documented more than once the multiple violations that prisoners are subjected to in Haftar’s militia prisons.
In a report published in 2015 during the organization’s visit to the detention facilities in Al-Bayda and Benghazi, they confirmed that the detainees were forced under torture to confess to serious crimes.
The organization revealed other violations, including the absence of proper procedures and medical care, the denial of family visits, failure to inform families of their detention, poor detention conditions, and children under the age of eighteen among those detained.
Last June, the organization called for an international investigation into the torture and killing of Haftar’s militias, including members of the reconciliation government forces, and the mutilation of their corpses, describing this as “war crimes.”
The organization called on the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to form an international commission of inquiry into these crimes.
“Khalifa Haftar should hold his forces responsible for any war crimes they committed or promoted on the Internet,” said Hanan Salah, first researcher for Libya at the human rights organization.
Cases of torture
Haftar and his militias are facing murder and torture cases filed against him by a number of Libyan families in the courts of the United States of America, including the Bin Sowaid family, which lost four members of its family, they accused Haftar’s militias of killing them after torturing them and throwing their bodies on Abu Hudaymah Street in Benghazi in 2015.
Two Libyan families filed a civil lawsuit with a US federal court last September, accusing Khalifa Haftar of committing war crimes, human rights violations and torture between 2016-2017 in Benghazi in the Qanfouda neighborhood, and it is the third case filed in a US court against Haftar.
The commitment document to the political agreement approved in mid-November on the sidelines of the Libyan Dialogue Forum called for the release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners, enabling the judiciary to investigate cases of the missing and forcibly disappeared, identifying and closing unofficial places of detention, and granting lawyers and civil society the right to access detention centers .
The document also stressed the need to allow the return of internally displaced people to their homes in safety and dignity, prosecute perpetrators of serious crimes and war crimes, and prevent them from running for elections and assuming higher positions in security and justice authority in the next government.