|Libyan Prisoners of Opinion and Conscience Stage Hunger strike|
12 October 2004Subject: Libyan Prisoners of Opinion and Conscience Stage Hunger strike
Dear Mrs. Arbour,
1. Further to our memorandum of 12 April 2004, we have just learned that several Libyan prisoners of opinion and conscience in the Busleem prison (Tripoli) have, since Thursday 7 October, staged a Hunger strike in protest of the prison conditions and the length of their trial which began in 2001. It is reported that the health of several strikers has deteriorated seriously over the last thirty six hours, but the government is persisting in its position of non assistance to the strikers, including their denial of access to medical assistance; even to those whose health condition is critical and needs urgent medical attention.
2. The Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR) believes that this strike would not have happened had the Government respected the recommendations of the Human Rights Committee (HRC) which, in its concluding remarks on the third periodic report of Libya, reiterated in paragraph 13 "its concern about the excessive duration of remand in custody and undue prolongation of pre-trial detention. It urged, therefore, the Government "that all necessary measures be taken to reduce the length of such detention and to improve judicial oversight". The hunger strike in Busleem prison has come to remind us all that the Government of Libya did not, unfortunately, respect either the letter or the spirit of the HRC recommendations none of which has been, to our knowledge, implemented. We believe that it is high time that Libya is reminded officially of its obligations under the different human rights conventions and treaties with the view of fully respecting and adhering to those obligations.
3. We also urge you to make an urgent presentation to the Libyan Government, on behalf of the Hunger strikers, for a speedy negotiated solution to the strike by acceding to the strikers' legitimate claims. In particular, the Government should be reminded of its obligations to ensure full compliance with article 14 of the Covenant on civil and Political Rights setting out the principles and norms of fair trial as well as with the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary and the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. The Government should also be requested to enforce a more efficient system for monitoring treatment of all detainees, so as to ensure that their rights under articles 7 and 10 of the Covenant are fully protected, and to ensure that all cases of ill-treatment, physical and psychological, are fully investigated by an impartial body; Human rights NGOs for example.
4. It would be appreciated if the LLHR is kept informed of follow up actions you may take to resolve this urgent conflict which may result, we are afraid, into loss of human lives if an early appropriate solution is not found. We understand that the hunger strikers, who are in their second strike since their arrest in 1998 , are determined to maintain their demand for an immediate release or alternatively a speedy fair trial along with tangible improvement in their conditions of imprisonment before ending their action.
5. LLHR remains at your disposal for any additional information we may require for a speedy follow up.
Soliman Bouchuiguir (Ph.D)
Ms. Louise Arbour,
United Nations High Commissioner
For Human Rights
Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10