The mobile phone videos filmed by former Gaddafi militiamen stoked very strong sentiments in Misrata. We were surprised to see how common a practice it was: many cell phones found on the bodies of killed soldiers or militiamen showed the men boasting of the violent treatment in store for the rebels. Those soldiers were probably trying to impress their bosses by showing their determination.
Misrata will be forever scarred by many rapes inflicted on local women by former Gaddafi soldiers. Some nearby villages, like one called Tommina, suffered particularly vicious attacks: young girls were raped under the eyes of their fathers. More than the dead, Misrata men now want to avenge their daughters, sisters and wives.
“The brutality of former rebels is no different from that of Gaddafi’s soldiers”
Of course, the brutality displayed by Gaddafi’s soldiers does not in any way justify the actions committed in this video. As a human rights lawyer, I believe that every person is entitled to a fair trial – and the justice system must decide what punishment to inflict. Unfortunately, the brutal methods employed by former rebels are no different than that displayed by Gaddafi’s soldiers. The two teenagers seen beating the prisoner in the video are proof of this.
Unfortunately, the Libyan government is doing nothing to prevent this type of abuse. On the contrary, perpetrators benefit from complete impunity, thanks to a new law
that stipulates that former rebels cannot be brought to court or punished for “acts committed with the goal of ensuring the revolution’s success.” In other words, today, those who took part in the uprising are above the law. Anyone who criticizes them is immediately branded a Gaddafi sympathizer.
We are trying to investigate and write reports on every incident of torture reported in Misrata, no matter who the perpetrators are. We would like to establish contact with the International Criminal Court. The Libyan justice system is still very dysfunctional. It took months to rebuild the tribunal, and judges and lawyers find it difficult to work in a city where weapons are passed around like currency and police often refuse to enforce a judge’s ruling.