The UN human rights office painted a dark picture of human rights abuses in the Libyan civil war on Tuesday, in a report that highlighted the unbridled power of armed factions and the breakdown of the rule of law.
Hundreds of civilians were killed in indiscriminate attacks in cities such as Tripoli and Benghazi last year, while others were assassinated, beheaded or killed in car bombings, the office of the UN high commissioner for human rights said.
Judicial officials, human rights activists, female politicians and reporters were especially at risk.
Nearly 400,000 people fled their homes in Libya between May and June.
The report was published shortly before the UN-sponsored talks that are expected to begin in Libya this week, after they were launched last month in Geneva.
The UN rights office said that even though the internationally recognized government in Tobruk and the rival Islamist government in Tripoli both claim legitimacy, actual control on the ground rests with armed groups “committing violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, with impunity.”
Hundreds of armed groups with more than 200,000 fighters continue to be paid from state funds to run detention centres where inmates are reportedly tortured and abused, the report said.
It added that “thousands of persons associated with the former regime, among others, continue to be detained outside of the effective oversight of the authorities.”
UN rights experts found that migrants from sub-Saharan Africa hoping to cross the Mediterranean to Europe also frequently end up in detention, where they face labour exploitation, sexual abuse and extortion.
The UN rights office called for an immediate end to attacks on civilians, and urged Libyan authorities to restore justice.
“There has been no known prosecution of leaders or members of armed groups, despite serious and continuous human rights abuses being carried out,” it said.