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Libya government told to end human rights abuses

By Andrew Grice

Britain yesterday renewed its call on the new Libyan government to stamp out alleged human rights abuses following the revelation that thousands of people are being illegally detained.

As Libya's transitional government was sworn in, the Foreign Office urged it to act on a United Nations report, revealed by The Independent yesterday, suggesting that up to 7,000 "enemies of the state" are being illegally detained.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We condemn all human rights violations. The Foreign Secretary [William Hague] recently raised the issue of detainees with Prime Minister al-Kib and made clear our expectation that the Transitional National Council [TNC] must fully investigate all allegations of abuse committed by its forces and bring anyone responsible to account."

The spokesman added: "We have welcomed the TNC's clear public statements that there should be no acts of retribution or reprisal and also their stated commitment to uphold the rule of law and due process. We also recognise that the Libyan authorities have been co-operating fully with the UN Human Rights Council's commission of inquiry. The newly formed transitional government should take forward its commitment to respect human rights with clear actions on the ground."

British officials hope the new government in Tripoli will now create and exercise the central authority that has been lacking since the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime. The UK is funding a project to provide training for lawyers and justice officials in order to improve understanding and adherence to international human rights standards. According to the UN report, most courts in Libya are currently "not fully operational" due to lack of security and absenteeism by judges and administrators.

The report by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, is due to be discussed by the UN Security Council on Monday.

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