Red Cross visits rebel-held detainees in Libya

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The international Red Cross said Friday it had visited over 100 prisoners held by Libya's armed opposition in the city of Benghazi to check on their conditions and treatment.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) staff started visiting about 50 Libyan servicemen and other people held by rebels in Benghazi's court building 10 days ago, the agency said in a statement.

Fifty more held in a military facility were registered and interviewed privately on Thursday "in order to check on their treatment and conditions of detention," it added.

"That makes more than 100," ICRC spokesman Marcal Izard told AFP.

The Geneva-based humanitarian agency also gained access earlier this week to two wounded detainees being held by the rebels at a hospital in Benghazi.

However, Izard said the ICRC had been unable so far to visit detainees who might be held by Libyan government forces since fighting erupted in the uprising last month.

"The ICRC is pursuing its efforts to visit everyone who has been detained, by either party to the conflict," the statement said.

The agency acts as the guardian of Geneva Conventions in conflict zones which ensure humane treatment of prisoners of war and the wounded.

"Our findings will be shared directly and in confidence with those responsible for their detention, which is the procedure we follow elsewhere," said Dany Merhy, a member of the team that carried out the visit.

The ICRC nonetheless emphasised that detainees should be protected against public curiosity.

© 2011 AFP

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