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Quasim prison, located south of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, currently holds 400 inmates – some are prisoners of war and some are illegal immigrants.
But according to prison chief Ayad Sager, who manages a staff of 60 former revolutionary militias, Libya’s Justice Ministry never called or visited, and he awaits a response from someone in the government to help alleviate the situation.
“We captured all these people from different nationalities, from African nationalities, we captured them in the roads, like we make checkpoints at the roads, especially at night, they all come at night, and we catch them, we bring them here. We feed them and we take care of them until their embassies or governments come here and sort something out for them,” he said. “But, I want to complain about my government and all the human rights and all the organizations that are responsible for this. Nobody helps us, nobody has even come to see us, you are maybe the first one or second one (to come),” said Sager, still dressed in desert camouflage fatigues more than three months after Libya’s civil war ended.
The overwhelming majority of inmates are black Africans who do not hold a Libyan visa, and have been in prison anywhere from four days to five months. They say they were apprehended because of their race.
Sager, a former revolutionary fighter, urges the European Union and the Libyan government to provide adequate supplies of food, medicine, and security for the prison.
The prison is a result of a fragile government trying to assert its authority and prevailing militias who were responsible for ousting Muammar Qaddafi filling the power vacuum.
The militias soon began arresting people on the basis of their ongoing allegiance with the deposed leader, as they believe Qaddafi hired sub-Saharan mercenaries to fight with him.
Libya has been hit with allegations by rights groups about widespread torture in prisons by revolutionary fighters. The country has already taken steps to disarm the militants, who also open fire among each other because of tribal disputes.
Ayad Sager – Prison chief