Beaten BBC journalists reveal details of Qaddafi's torture apparatus
Three BBC journalists detained outside Zawiyah said they were beaten and subjected to 'mock executions.' The UN is investigating separate allegations of torture.
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"I cannot describe how bad it was. Most of them [other detainees] were hooded and handcuffed really tightly, all with swollen hands and broken ribs. They were in agony. They were screaming," Mr. Koraltan said.Skip to next paragraph
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The BBC successfully lobbied for the team’s release after being notified of their detention through a cell phone one of the journalists had smuggled into the prison. A Libyan senior government official apologized for the incident.
The United Nations condemned the Libya's detention of the BBC journalists, with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay saying it amounted to torture. "If an international television crew can be subjected to this type of treatment, it makes me extremely concerned about the treatment that is most likely being meted out to Libyan opponents of the regime who have fallen into the hands of the security services," she said today.
Indeed, this is unlikely to be an isolated incident. The UN's special rapporteur for torture, Juan Mendez, told the Associated Press yesterday that he has already begun an investigation into reports of torture in Libya. Mr. Mendez said that he has been receiving complaints from opposition groups since mid-February, when Qaddafi began cracking down on protesters.
One of the allegations Mendez is investigating is the alleged use of ambulances by security forces to gain admittance to hospitals. Aid officials, migrant workers, and refugees have all said that, once inside the hospitals, Qaddafi's forces would kidnap patients who opposed Qaddafi and execute them.
"Shooting into the streets against demonstrators, picking them up from hospitals ... and also detaining and mistreating them and torturing them," were just some of the types of crimes that Mendez told the AP he would look into. He added that, "The torture allegations that we received were more of mistreatment in the street itself, at the demonstrations."
Mendez said he would request information from the Qaddafi regime and that he would note any reluctance to cooperate in official reports submitted to the UN Human Rights Council.
The United Nations has also launched a diplomatic-level probe into human rights abuses in Libya. The International Criminal Court, per the request of the UN Security Council, is investigating Qaddafi and some of his close associates for crimes against humanity.