Medical aid group wraps up work over torture in Libyan prisons

A Handout image released by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on April 17, 2011 shows medics looking after an injured man, caught in fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, on board a MedEvac boat heading from the Libyan rebel-held city of Misrata as he and others are evacuated to Zarzis in Tunisia on April 16, 2011 (AFP Photo / Tristan Pfund / MSF)
International medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres is suspending its mission in the prisons of the Libyan city of Misrata, claiming detainees are being repeatedly tortured and denied urgent medical help.

The Geneva-based NGO has been working in the city since April 2011 and say they have treated a total of 115 detainees, suffering from torture-related wounds.

The organization says it has reported all such cases to Misrata authorities demanding an immediate stop to any form of ill treatment of prisoners. But nothing has changed.

No concrete action has been taken,” said the organization’s general director Christopher Stokes. “Instead, our team received four new torture cases. We have therefore come to the decision to suspend our medical activities in the detention centers.”

MSF claims that since January several patients who had returned to the interrogation centers were tortured again.

Some officials have sought to exploit and obstruct MSF’s medical work,” Stokes said. “Patients were brought to us in the middle of interrogation for medical care, in order to make them fit for further interrogation. This is unacceptable. Our role is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not to repeatedly treat the same patients between torture sessions.”

MSF has been operating in Libya since February 2011 following the outbreak of violence in the civil-war-torn nation.

In the official press release the organization says it will continue its mental health activities in schools and health facilities in Misrata, and will continue to assist 3,000 African migrants, refugees, and internally displaced persons in and around Tripoli.

Political analyst Dan Glazebrook told RT that the NTC and its Western supporters are aware of the torture but have little desire to stop it. He argues that the NTC has even expressed support for this kind of behavior.

When the town of Tawaga was ethnically cleansed last year the then-president of the NTC, Mahmoud Jibril, actually said ‘What happens to the people of Tawaga is the business of the people of Misrata – and no one else’s business.’ That has given the green light for the torture and execution that we are seeing now.”