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The Libyan League For Human Rights
Thursday, 16 June, 2005

Libya: Four Executions By Firing Squad?

The Libyan League for Human rights is deeply disturbed by the execution, by firing squad, of four Egyptian nationals who, together with 11 other Egyptian expatriates, were "convicted" of "murder" by a Libyan court in 2004. The League is all the more concerned as it was not aware that such trial took place, nor can it be sure that the judgment was actually rendered by a competent court after due process of law that provided every possible safeguard to ensure a fair trial. In particular, the League is not sure whether the executed persons, Arfa Abdellatif, Majed Assayed Mohamed, Barakat Abdeldhaher and Basyouni Ahmed, enjoyed adequate legal assistance at all stages of the proceedings as prescribed by article 14 of the CCPR on the right to a fair and public trial. We are not aware that their right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction was respected or that their right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence was exercised.

Under these circumstances, the League will continue its struggle for the abolition, in Libya and elsewhere, of capital punishment which we consider to be unwarranted cruel and inhuman punishment that can be mistakenly but irrevocably inflicted on innocent persons. The irony is that the Libyan judiciary, although far from being legally competent to inflict such punishment as it is renowned for its subordination to the whims of the ruling clique and its lack of independence, has handed down a record number of death penalties during the last 35 years. In 1975 a score of military officers were executed, by firing squad, for their alleged role in an attempted "coup d' état" led by Major al-Mehishi. This was followed by the public hanging of political activists, including Messrs. Ben Saud and Dabboub. In the 1980s the Government organized a "man-hunt" campaign against its political opponents inside and outside Libya. Dozens of Libyans lost their lives as a result of summary and swift judicial proceedings that failed to respect the basic requirements for a fair trial. Others were simply murdered (physically liquidated) in extrajudicial terrorist operations. In the 1990s death sentences were again passed on military personnel. Colonel Garrum and a dozen of his fellow officers were executed by firing squad for alleged conspiracy against the regime. At the same time, Mr. Kikhia, a prominent human rights defender, was kidnapped in Cairo and unconfirmed reports spoke of his forced repatriation to Libya where he may have been executed.

The Libyan League for Human Rights would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm, once again, its total opposition to capital punishment as previously announced in its press releases of 13 January 2005, 16 May 2004, and 19 September 2002. We strongly believe that the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and, therefore, once again call upon the Government of Libya to immediately announce the demise of the death penalty in Libya by promptly ratifying the UN Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Meanwhile, in order to save the lives of those who are on death row, including the 11 Egyptian expatriates, a moratorium on all executions should be put into effect pending a review of their individual cases and consideration of the granting of a pardon or commutation of their death sentences.

26 July 2005

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