Any idea that the British government could afford to take its eye off Libya was dashed today by news of an imminent report by the United Nations suggesting some 7,000 detainees are being held in the newly liberated country.
The report by the UN secretary-general, Ban ki-Moon, says the prisoners include women and children. There are also many black Africans who have been tortured for their skin colour as suspected Gaddafi sympathisers. The report, due to be published on Monday, suggests that many prisoners have been held in private jails not under the control of the interim government. Prisoners lack access to legal due process and many courts are “not fully operational”
All eyes in Westminster are currently on the economy ahead of next week’s growth review. This report, however, is a reminder to Downing Street of awkward obligations in North Africa which will not go away easily.