Report: East Libya Rebels Detaining Civilians Suspected of Supporting Gadhafi

Reports of Torture Extend Beyond Regime Into Rebel-Controlled Cities

Systematic brutality and summary detentions are nothing new in Gadhafi-ruled Libya, and indeed the routine human rights abuses were a big part of fueling the protest movement and eventually, the civil war aimed at removing him from power.

But the would-be rebel government, made up in no small part of former Gadhafi government leadership that defected, appears to have taken their bag of tricks with them, as a new report from Human Rights Watch details parts of the rebel faction are using very Gadhafi-style tactics to root out dissent.

The report says that “volunteer security groups” operating on behalf of the rebel government have begun detaining civilians they suspect of being “Gadhafi supporters” in rebel-held cities, and reports that at least one detainee was tortured to death.

Its clear that the pro-democracy rallies calling for Gadhafi’s ouster came about with an eye toward reining in this sort of abuse, but the NATO-backed “rebel government,” despite operating nominally on behalf of the protesters, was not elected by them and doesn’t appear to be a very effective guarantor of human rights.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.