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Widespread and systematic torture creates huge need for rehabilitation in Libya

New research from DIGNITY shows that 11 percent of the Libyan population have been arrested and half of these have been subjected to torture. The consequences at the level of the population are massive: 29% of individuals report anxiety and 30% report depression, while PTSD symptoms were reported by 6%.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The data collection was completed in October 2013. 2,692 household interviews were included in the national survey.

Every fifth household responded to having a family member disappeared, 11% reported having a household member arrested and 5% reported one killed. Of those arrested, 46% reported beatings, 20% positional torture or suspensions, 16% suffocation and from 3 to 5% reported having suffered sexual, thermal or electrical torture. In short our data support the allegations that widespread human rights violations and gross human rights violations have taken place in Libya.

The consequences at the level of the population are massive: 29% of individuals report anxiety and 30% report depression, while PTSD symptoms were reported by 6%. These results indicate that the respondents at the time of interview could still be in an acute or post-acute stage and have yet to reach the post-trauma stage, hence we predict that the prevalence of post-traumatic stress reactions will increase over time, if or when the internal conflict subsides.

Furthermore, our data show that internal displacement is major concern in Libya. A total of 18% of the respondents reported being internally displaced during the internal conflict, and 16% remains so at the time of the interview, indicating a major source of long-term human suffering and political instability.

In these times of distress and crisis respondents have had almost no access to international humanitarian assistance. Only 2% report having been helped by NGOs. Libyans overwhelmingly have resorted to local resources for social support: 72% indicate they used family networks and 48% friends, 43% Libyan medical doctors, 24% used religious leaders and 18% used traditional healers.

Overall, we conclude that both the short-term consequences of the internal conflict as well as the long-term consequences of the Gaddafi regime are in large measures still unaddressed. In order to deal with life sress, 59% indicated they needed assistance in terms of justice, legal remedy and compensation, while 44% indicated they needed health and medical assistance. Thus, the report concludes that any future government of Libya faces massive challenges in alleviating human suffering and improving mental health. However, as the internal conflict continues more and more people are affected by human rights violations aggravating mental health afflictions, straining the social fabric and the capacity of the Libyan state.

Read The Guardian's coverage of the report here.

Read the full report

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