United Nations: In Libya, The Right To Freedom Of Opinion|
And Expression Is Not Respected
3 October 2006
This United Nations report on Libya by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of opinion and expression has been presented to the United Nations Council on Human Rights. Its main conclusion is that Libya is still far from upholding and respecting the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”, contained inter alia in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Following is the full report:
11 (c) of the provisional agenda
Civil and political rights including the question of freedom of expression
The right to freedom of opinion and expression
Report of the Special Rapporteur, Ambeyi Ligabo
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
1. On 10 June 2005, the Special Rapporteur, jointly with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, sent a letter of allegation concerning Daif al Ghazal al-Shuhaibi, 31, a journalist who wrote for the UK-based newspaper Libya Today, and member of the Journalists and Editors' Syndicate in Libya. According to information received, on 2 June 2005 his dead body was found in Kanfouda, in the eastern city of Benghazi. The autopsy report referred to extensive signs of torture and a gunshot to the head; most of his fingers were severed and his body was covered with bruises and stab wounds. Daif al-Ghazal al Shuhaibi had been reported missing since midnight 21 May 2005 when he was kidnapped by two armed men claiming to be state security officers. His friend, who was with him when the men arrested Daif al-Ghazal al-Shuhaibi, was unharmed. The authorities were, at the time this communication was sent, conducting investigations. Security officers, who had been questioned by the Benghazi Prosecutor’s Office, denied having arrested Mr. Daif al-Ghazal al-Shuhaibi. Several other people were being questioned. According to reports received, Daif al-Ghazal al Shuhaibi had published articles on Libya Today which were very critical of Libya’s Governing Party the Movement of Revolutionary Committee (MRC), particularly an article he published on 16 May 2005, where he reiterated that he had documents concerning corruption in Libya, which documents he would soon be making public. Moreover, he had worked with the MRC for ten years; he had also worked for the MRC-controlled newspaper, Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar (The Green March) for four years before leaving because of what he believed was widespread corruption within the MRC. In 2004 Daif al-Ghazal al-Shuhaibi had issued an appeal to intellectuals in Libya to form a civil society committee against corruption; this never materialized. Concern was expressed that the killing of Daif al-Ghazal al-Shuhaibi could have been directly connected to his work as a journalist and to the manifestation of his right to freedom of opinion and expression, especially since he reported having received many threats following the publication of his article on 16 May 2005.
2. On 9 November 2005, the Special Rapporteur sent a letter of allegation concerning Abd al-Raziq al-Mansouri, 52, an internet journalist. According to information received, on 19 October 2005, a court in Tripoli convicted him to one and a half years in prison. Mr. Mansouri was arrested on 12 January 2005 in Tobruk and was held in incommunicado detention for four months. He had his first contact with his family on 28 May 2005 and the trial against him commenced in late Summer. Upon arrest, Internal Security agents confiscated his computer, papers, floppy and compact discs. Once at the Internal Security Agency's headquarters in Tobruk, he was questioned about articles he had written. In May, Mr. Mansouri was still unaware of any charges brought against him. He was then charged with illegally possessing a handgun. The gun was found at his home during a second search carried out separately after all the documents related to his work as a journalist had been confiscated. According to Mr. Mansouri, the gun had belonged to his father. In handing down the one and a half years sentence against him, the court refused to take into consideration the time he had already spent in pre-trial detention. Concern was expressed that the arrest, detention and conviction of Mr. Mansouri’s was aimed at silencing his opinions and views and was directly linked with the approximately 50 articles and commentaries he wrote for a UK-based website www.akbar libya.com, which articles were critical of the Government and Libyan society.
3. The Special Rapporteur regrets not having received a reply from the Government to his communications of 10 June 2005 and 9 November 2005.
4. Regarding the death of journalist, Daif al-Ghazal al-Shuhaibi and the arrest and conviction of Abd al-Raziq al-Mansouri, the Special Rapporteur, pending a reply from the Government and without making any determination as to the facts of the case, expresses his grave concern that these two incidents may be related to the journalistic work of the two individuals, and in particular to their alleged criticisms of the Government. The Special Rapporteur urges the Government to uphold and respect the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”, contained inter alia in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, with regards to the killing of Daif al-Ghazal al-Shuhaibi, to carry out thorough investigations and to bring to justice those responsible. End of the Report
5. The Libyan League for Human Rights regrets that the Libyan authorities continues to ignore the League’s repeated calls to create appropriate conditions for the enjoyment of human rights, including the rights to hold differing opinions and to freely express them. We believe that It is high time that the authorities understand that the question of human rights is no longer an internal or regional issue to be addressed within the framework of the state’s domestic laws; it has become a focal point of diplomatic activities in all international relations and the enjoyment of these rights is now regarded as the real criterion by which the reputation and good standing of States are determined.