Amnesty International has condemned the arbitrary detention of nine peaceful protesters and a journalist by an internal security agency in eastern Libya.
“The Internal Security Agency (ISA), a collection of powerful armed groups operating in areas under the control of the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF), is arbitrarily detaining at least nine peaceful protesters and a journalist incommunicado after they participated in a demonstration in Sirte,” it said in a press release on Tuesday.
On March 19, around 30 people took part in the protest in Sirte, which called on the international community and local authorities to provide compensation for victims of the 2011 NATO airstrikes.
“Examination of three videos of the protest and eyewitness testimony indicate that the protest was peaceful,” the statement read, noting that within the next week, one journalist and at least 10 protesters were seized by armed men, one was released a few days later.
The organization said Ali al-Refawi, a reporter who was covering the protest for Libyan TV channel 218, is among those currently detained. He was arrested by armed men on March 26 and taken to an undisclosed location.
This is the third wave of arrests against residents of Sirte, the hometown of Libya’s former ruler Muammar Gaddafi, since the LAAF takeover in 2020.
Amnesty called on Khalifa Haftar’s LAAF to immediately ensure the release of all those detained simply for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and expression.