HRW to Libya: Stop Arbitrary Arrests of Black Africans

Posted September 4th, 2011 at 3:05 am (UTC-5)
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A human rights groups has called on the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) to stop what it says are “the arbitrary arrests and abuse” of African migrant workers and black Libyans assumed to be mercenaries.

Human Rights Watch said Sunday the NTC should release those detained as mercenaries “solely due to their dark skin color.” The rights organization said the NTC should provide “prompt judicial review” to any detainees for whom there is evidence of criminal activity.

Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East and North Africa director, says “it's a dangerous time to be dark-skinned in Tripoli.” She said the NTC should stop arresting African migrants and black Libyans unless it has “concrete evidence” of criminal activity.

The rights organization said the NTC needs to implement its commitment to human rights by ensuring the security of tens of thousands of migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa who are facing harassment and violence from both armed rebel fighters and Libyan citizens.

Human Rights Watch says Libya was home to between one and two million African workers prior to the uprising.

Friday the International Organization for Migration said sub-Saharan Africans in Libya have been particularly subject to physical attacks, and some have been killed. An IOM spokeswoman told VOA that many were targeted by people who believed they were mercenaries in the employ of Moammar Gadhafi (Libya's former leader).