Abdallah, like many prosecutors in Libya today, worries about his personal safety since he could be targeted if he happens to handle a case in which militias are involved.
Human Rights Watch has documented many cases in which the Libyan judiciary has not been compromised. “We walk a fine line when handling cases including murder, kidnapping and extortion,” Abdallah told Al-Monitor as we waited for his next case to reach his office. The problem, he said, is that the official police forces are weak, underfunded and unprotected, outgunned by militias that are affiliated with the Interior Ministry, but have an almost entirely free hand.
Al-Monitor spoke to a Tripoli police commander, who asked that neither his name nor his rank be disclosed. "Ahmed," a pseudonym, explained, “Policemen in uniforms, in many cases, do not go and arrest criminals because we never know if the suspect belongs to a militia or not.” To avoid possible trouble with armed militias with no regard for the law, the police leave it to certain militias, such as the Tripoli Brigades, to arrest and lock up criminals. A high-risk suspect may remain in a militia-run jail.
With arms widely available in Libya, militias are the best force to do this kind of work because “they are protected,” as Ahmed puts it. The suspect could belong to another militia, meaning that if there are any repercussions for his group from his arrest, it is likely to try to free him by force.