[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Committee [official website] Friday called on Libya to end the use of torture [UN materials, PDF] and to investigate torture allegations by five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who had been detained in Libya for eight years on suspicions that they deliberately infected hundreds of Libyan children with the HIV virus [JURIST news archive]. The call came after the recent completion of an intensive study [UN materials] of the civil and political rights records of Libya, Algeria, Georgia, Austria and Costa Rica. Although Libya told the Committee that torture had been banned, committee vice-chairman Ivan Shearer said the investigation found "widespread and systematic" torture in the country. Reuters has more.
In August, the five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor, who was later granted Bulgarian citizenship reiterated their allegations [JURIST report] that Libyan authorities forced a confession out of them via torture. The six medics consistently maintained their innocence, despite their confessions. The son of Libya's leader, Seif al Islam Gaddafi, acknowledged [JURIST report] that the six medics had been subjected to electric shocks and threats of retaliation against their family. The medics were initially sentenced to death, but a Libyan judicial body commuted their sentences after the families of the infected patients each received $1 million in compensation [JURIST reports]. All six were pardoned by Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov after their release by Libyan authorities [JURIST reports] under the pretense that they would serve their sentences in Bulgaria.