A leaked UN report seen by a British newspaper says thousands of Libyans are being illegally detained in post-Gadhafi Libya.
The report — due to be presented to the UN Security Council next week, but seen by The Independent — says that political prisoners held under Moammar Gadhafi have been released, but notes that as many as 7,000 prisoners are in "prisons and makeshift detention centres" with no access to due process.
Among the prisoners are women being held under male supervision and children being held alongside adults, the leaked report says.
There are also allegations of abuse and mistreatment, and of prisoners being held merely because they are from sub-Saharan Africa — where rebels believed Gadhafi recruited mercenaries.
The UN report seen by the British paper also contains allegations of war crimes by both Gadhafi loyalists and opposition fighters during the gruelling fight for Sirte, Gadhafi's hometown.
Gadhafi was killed by gunfire in October after being captured alive in Sirte, Libya's transitional authorities have said.
According to the Independent, UN chief Ban ki-Moon expresses concern about the way Gadhafi was killed in the leaked report. The UN Human Rights Council called for an investigation into Gadhafi's death, and Libya's transitional officials later said they would launch an investigation.
The report seen by the paper also points to concerns about weapons stockpiles and the role of militias in post-Gadhafi Libya.
Gadhafi regime abuses also documented
The report also contains details about abuses committed by the Gadhafi regime, the newspaper said.
Wesley Wark, a security expert at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, said the picture painted in the leaked report isn't encouraging, but he urged patience as the country tries to rebuild.
"No country can reconstruct itself after 42 years of brutal, bizarre authoritarian rule, kind of overnight," Wark said.
"There are going to be things that will happen in Libya that aren't going to be pleasant for a while," he said. "But, hopefully, over the longer term, Libyans will be able to restore their state and create some kind of functioning democracy for themselves."
Wark said Libya's transitional government badly needs to rein in militias, unite the country and build a respect for human rights and the rule of law.
To succeed, Wary said, Libya's new rulers and its people will need international support, and time.
This is not the first report into alleged abuses in Libya. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have released reports raising questions about the conduct of both sides during the months-long battle to oust Gadhafi.