A Libya militia holding two journalists working for Iran’s Press TV should immediately transfer them to the authorities, a Human Rights Watch representative said on Sunday.
“Militias have no business detaining people and holding people,” Sidney Kwiram told AFP in Tripoli, where reporter Nicholas Davies and cameraman Gareth Mongomery-Johnson are being held.
Kwiram said that the journalists, who were detained early on Tuesday, are being held by the Saraya Swehli militia of the coastal city of Misrata.
“They must transfer them over to the government immediately,” she stressed.
Iran’s English-language Press TV said on Friday that its reporters were detained and taken to Tripoli by a Misrata militia that had fought to topple the regime of Muammar Qaddafi last year.
Asked about the report, the Foreign Office in London issued a statement that only said two Britons were being held in Libya.
“This is not just about Nick and Gareth. This is about every Libyan and every foreigner who is picked up off the streets at the discretion of a militia,” said Kwiram.
“It is absolutely critical commanders like Faraj Swehli not go around freelancing with the law,” she added, in reference to the militia’s commander.
Kwiram said the militia refused to grant Human Rights Watch access to the journalists, adding that it marked the second time in the past year that a militia prevented the organization from visiting a detention center.
“Until the militias begin to cooperate with the new government, it is going to be very difficult to establish the rule of law in Libya,” she said.