13 June 2005Libya: Violation of the right to life of a Libyan Journalist
Dear Ms. Arbour
1. We regret to write to you, once again, on the blatant and systematic violations of basic human rights in Libya and the permanent transgression by its Government of its engagements under the International Bill of Human Rights, especially the violations of its obligations as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and political rights, which it ratified in May 1976, and as a member of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment it ratified on 2 November 1990.
2. the most recent violation concerns the forced disappearance and the subsequent murder of Mr. Dhaif Al-Ghazal, a Libyan Journalist (32) who worked for 10 years for the official organ, Alzahf Alakhdhar, of the “Revolutionary Committees” ruling party before leaving it in 2003. The “Revolutionary Committees” party defines itself as a "political and cultural movement, supporting the installation of people's power" in accordance with President Qaddhafi teaching. Recently Mr. Al-Ghazal published articles, on the Internet, critical of the “Revolutionary Committees” and calling for better Governance capable of circumscribing the rampant corruption and of imposing a strict respect of human Rights. On 21 May 2005 Mr. Al-Ghazal was reported missing and his body was found, on 2 June 2005, barely recognizable due to several signs of brutal and inhuman torture.
3. UNESCO Director General, Koichiro Matsuura, condemned the assassination of Dhaif Al Ghazal in non equivocal terms as he declared that "Mr. Al Ghazal, was a brave and committed journalist, who paid for the fundamental human right of freedom of expression with his life. The brutal torture he was made to endure before his death speaks volumes about the moral principles of his killers. Freedom of expression is fundamental to good governance and rule of law, torturing and silencing those who denounce problems does not make the problems go away" (UNESCO Press Release No.2005-68). The brutal torture and murder of Mr. Al-Ghazal was also condemned by a score of Human rights and media organizations as heinous crime perpetrated against a Journalist for daring to write on sensitive files such as corruption and the role of the "Revolutionary Committees" in its preservation and continuation. The murder of Mr. Al Ghazal proved that, despite its claims to reform and improvement of the Libyan Human rights disastrous situation, the Government continues to accept no dissent and to allow no margin for the free enjoyment of basic human rights, including the rights to freedom of opinion and expression.
4. The Libyan government, through its minister of justice, announced on 3 June 2005 it was investigating the killing. But almost two weeks after that announcement was made, nothing has come from the Government to shed light on the killing of Mr. Al-Ghazal. We believe that no serious investigation will ever be undertaken without an independent international monitoring and supervision. We are afraid that the death of Mr. Al Gazal, given the present political and judicial conditions of Libya, will not, as in the case of previous political murders, including the mass killing of prisoners in Busleem Prison in June 1996, be properly investigated despite Governmental announcements to that effect. We believe that the Government will, with the passing of time, attempt to induce through threat and reward the family of Mr. Al-Ghazal from pursuing the case internationally with the usual token "firm commitment" to keep the investigation alive through the ministry of justice. The "Qaddhafi Foundation for Humanitarian Actions" presided by Seif, a son of President Qaddhafi, will likewise be asked to assist in the investigation in a later stage to further camouflage any outcome. This is a well known recipe that has been repeatedly used by the Government to camouflage, disguise or distort important investigations and inquiries on flagrant violations of Human rights in Libya.
5. The Libyan League for Human Rights would appreciate any action from your part to issue, for instance, a declaration on the death of Mr. Al Ghazal similar to the one published by the Director General of UNESCO. We would also appreciate any request from your office to the Libyan Government to associate representatives from your office to observe and monitor the announced Governmental investigation. We propose that a representative from the office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Mr. Ligabo and another from the office of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, Mr. Alston, travel to Libya to observe the said investigation and monitor its outcome. We believe that this mission is in the hart of the terms of reference of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and that it is one of the prerogatives of that Office. We are not asking the UN to undertake, as in the case of the Lebanese Journalist the late Samir Qassir murdered in Beirut, a full-fledged investigation of the murder of Mr. Al Ghazal, but we are merely requesting the sending of a team from your office to independently observe the conduct of the investigation and to make sure that it is properly undertaken. This is, in our views, another way to show the Libyan Government and other non-democratic Governments in the world that their violations of Human rights are no longer immune from close scrutiny and denunciation and that they cannot continue killing their citizens, who do not share their political and philosophical views, without facing unanimous reprobation of and condemnation from the international community.
6. The Libyan League for Human Rights remains at your disposal for any further clarification or information you may deem necessary for follow up actions on this blatant violation of the right to life.
Soliman Bouchuiguir (Ph. D)
Ms Louise Arbour
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10,
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