Libya leaders acknowledge abuse of prisoners

Libya's new leaders said on Wednesday that some prisoners held by revolutionary forces have been abused, but insisted the mistreatment was not systematic and pledged to tackle the problem.

The acknowledgment comes a day after the UN released a report a detailing alleged torture and ill treatment in lockups controlled by the forces that overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The report says that Libyan revolutionaries still hold about 7,000 people, many of them sub-Saharan Africans who are in some cases accused or suspected of being mercenaries hired by Gaddafi.

Libya's new leaders, who received the backing of the US, France, Britain and other countries in their fight against Gaddafi, are eager to assure the world of their commitment to democracy and human rights.

Interior Minister Fawzy Abdul-Ali acknowledged that abuses have occurred but said the new government is trying to eliminate them.

"We are trying our best to establish a legitimate system that is authorised to make arrests, detain and interrogate people," he told The Associated Press. "We are trying to minimise the possibilities of violations taking place."

Abdul-Ali said the government plans to create special security units under the authority of the central government that will handle prisoners. Leaders are working to bolster "the authority of the new government all across the country," he said.

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