Ms. Louise Arbour
UN High Commissioner For Human Rights
Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
13 June 2006
Dear Ms. Arbour,
Subject: Murder of Libyan Journalist; Mr. Al-Ghazal
On 13 June 2005, We wrote to you on the torture and the subsequent murder of Mr Al-Ghazal, a young Journalist in Al-Zahf Al-Akhdhar -the official organ of the Libyan Government-, for publishing on the Internet articles critical of the Libyan system of Government (Jamahiriya) as one that allows the expression of no views, ideas or thoughts not fully in line with the tenets and whims of the Government. We, in particular, made you aware of our apprehension that "the death of Mr. Al-Ghazal, given the present political and judicial conditions in Libya, will not be properly investigated despite the governmental announcements to that effect". We therefore urged you to consider sending observers "from your office to assist and monitor the announced Government investigation". We also proposed that " a representative from the office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Mr Libido, and another from the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions, Mr Aston, travel to Libya to observe the said investigation and monitor its outcome".
A full year has elapsed since and we regret to inform you that nothing important has happened to rebut the above contentions. The Libyan League for Human Rights is not aware of any serious effort undertaken by the Government to highlight Mr Al-Ghazal's case during the last twelve months. We have received, during this period, no indication that the Government plans to investigate, properly, the case or to bring its perpetrator(s) to Justice. We urge you, therefore, to reconsider our proposal to "offer" UNHCHR technical assistance to the Government of Libya to speed up the investigation of the crime and to hold a fair trial to its perpetratpor(s).
The Libyan League for Human rights deeply believes that freedom of opinion and expression, including press freedom, constitutes the basis of all freedoms on which democracy rests. No nation can make sustainable progress, and Libya is a case in point, if freedom of expression is not guaranteed to all and protected by law. Press freedom is one of the pillars of democracy and states, including Libya, have the primary responsibility to ensure protection and security of journalists and also responsible for ensuring that crimes against media professionals are brought to justice. The government of Libya, despite recent breakthrough in its foreign policy, does not seem to take advantage of the favourable situation and adopt measures designed to strengthen the protection of Human rights in general and, in particular the protection of journalists and of the freedom of the press. It continues to ignore appeals to properly investigate the case of Mr. Al-Ghazal and other cases, including the one of using, in Benghazi on 17 February 2006, excessive lethal violence that left 19 persons dead and score of injured during an authorized peaceful demonstration. All this seems to indicate that the government is determined to keep its present repressive policy that leaves no margin at all to the rights to the freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom of the press.
The Libyan League for Human Rights is alarmed by the extent to which efforts by Libyans to exercise peacefully the rights to expression, opinion, association and assembly continue to carry the threat of physical harm. We are alarmed at the fact that individuals continue to be killed (19 in Benghazi-17 February 2006) for having sought to express peacefully their right to freedom of opinion and expression; which, in turn, is a clear reflection of the very low level of protection and respect of all human rights in Libya. It is time that the Government of Libya is reminded, once more, of its obligations under the different Human Rights conventions and covenants with the view of guaranteeing the respect of basic human rights to all Libyans in accordance with the terms and spirit of those international instruments. Meanwhile we urge you to review Mr. Al-Ghazal's case with the view of making the required presentations to the Government to secure a speedy investigation of the crime and a fair trial to its perpetrator(s).
The Libyan League for Human Rights remains at your disposal for any additional information, on this file, your office may require.
Soliman Bouchuiguir (Ph.D)
CC : Mr. Ambeyi LIGABO, Special Rapporteur
Freedom of Opinion and Expression
Mr. Manfred NOWAK, Special Rapporteur
Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment
Mr. Philip ALSTON, Special Rapporteur
Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions