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UN: Ex-rebels still hold 7,000 people in Libya

UN chief says former Libya rebels still hold 7,000 people, some reportedly tortured By The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) ' Former Libyan revolutionaries still hold about 7,000 people, and some reportedly have been subjected to torture and ill treatment, according to a U.N. report circulated Monday.

The report by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, made public before a Security Council briefing about Libya on Monday afternoon, says that many of the inmates have no access to due process in the absence of a functioning police and judiciary.

It also says that sub-Saharan Africans, in come cases accused or suspected of being mercenaries hired by Moammar Gadhafi's regime, constitute a large number of those held.

"While the (National Transitional Council) has taken some steps toward transferring responsibility for the detainees from brigades to proper state authorities, much remains to be done to regularize detention, prevent abuse and bring about the release of those whose detention should not be prolonged," the report says.

"I believe that the leaders of the new Libya are indeed committed to building a society based on the respect for human rights," Ban said in his report. "Achieving this requires the earliest possible action, however difficult the circumstances, to end arbitrary detention and prevent abuses and discrimination, against third country nationals as well as against any group of Libya's own citizens."

The spokesman for Libya's new army, Ahmed Bani, said in Libya on Monday that he was unaware of the reported mistreatment.

"I am not sure if it happened. Maybe, but if it happened, don't blame us. We were suffering for 42 years. He was hurting us, he was killing us and he raped our women," he said.

Ban's special representative for Libya, Ian Martin, was scheduled to provide the Security Council with an update on the situation in the country later Monday.

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