Libya Watch's letter to High Commissioner for Human Rights
(Mrs. Louise Arbour) at the United Nations (UN)
12th December 2005
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: + 41 22 917 9022
Dear Mrs. Louise Arbour
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
When the Libyan regime abolished the People's court, an exceptional court operating outside the main legal frame, we expected all unjust sentences passed by this court to be likewise abolished. Amnesty International issued a report following its field visit to Libya on 28 th February 2004 in which it criticized the Peoples Court and confirmed that this court is in breach of Libyan law and international standards and that it lacked credibility. Amongst these rulings by the peoples court is the sentence handed down to scores of professionals and students charged in connection with the banned Libyan Islamic Group the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood.
• In June 1998, one hundred and fifty three members of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood (LMB) were imprisoned in a mass arrest campaign and many others fled from Libya.
• On 18 th March 2001 the LMB prisoners were brought in front of the people's court after being held incommunicado, denied legal representative of their choice and subjected to torture.
• After eight sessions of the peoples court the following sentences: 1) Two death sentences handed down to Dr. Abdullah Ahmad Izideen and Dr. Salem Mohamed Abo Hanek 2) Life imprisonment handed down to 73 members of the LMB amongst them were Dr. Abdallah Shamia and Dr. Abdulmonom Al-Hassadi, also, amongst them was Dr. Abdallah Elshebanni who died in custody in suspicious circumstances . 3) ten year terms handed down to 11 others 4) 67 others were released after it was ruled that they have exhausted their sentence.
• An appeal was lodged and after a delay tactic employed by the Libyan authorities so as to sort out their foreign discrepancies with the West while continuing to run their internal affairs with a fist of steel causing untold suffering to their people and abusing the human rights of their subjects, the same sentences have been upheld on the 6 th session of the same court the, Peoples Court , on the 1 st of December 2004
• In January 2005 the Peoples court was abolished.
• In May 2005 the LMB prisoners were informed of their release so were their families who came from near and far to take them home but each time with an increasing disappointment.
• On the 7 th of November 2005 the LMB were brought in front of a special court set up under the name of " A Specialist Court ". This court was adjourned to the 28 th of November 2005 and again to the 12 th of December 2005 so as the prisoners of the LMB could confer with their lawyers who were prevented from seeing their clients by the security services.
The Libyan Muslim Brotherhood group is renowned for its peaceful activities and is not known to have used or advocated violence. Amnesty International and Human Watch International have maintained throughout this period that the LMB are prisoners of conscience and called on the Libyan government to release all prisoners of conscience and specifically referred to the Muslim Brotherhood prisoners and asked for the abolishment of certain laws which stand in contradiction of human rights and international laws. Even the Simi official "Gaddafi International Organisation for Charitable Societies" headed by Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi the son of Colonel Gaddafi have accepted that they are prisoners of conscience and promised to have them released by September 2005, a promise that was never fulfilled.
We can confirm that up to Friday the 9 th of December 2005 the lawyers of the LMB prisoners were denied access to their clients to prepare their defence case to be presented to the Special Court on Monday the 12 th of December 2005 . This situation is ridicules as this will mean a third adjournment for lack of access to lawyers. If such a court cannot provide access of lawyers to defendants appearing in front of it, how can it hope to provide justice but then again, this situation is reminiscent of the situation in the Libyan regime.
The Libyan authorities have, over three decades, totally disregarded the principles of freedom and basic human rights. The following are some of the most important aspects of the Libyan regime's gross violation of human rights which are still in force to the date of writing this letter
1. Libya continues to enforce laws which provide cover and immunity for all forms of political, social and economic injustice. Such laws are in total breach of all international human rights conventions. Most notorious is law No. 71 prohibiting the formations of parties for the year 1972. This law practically bans any person from forming any political, social or charitable organisation or group based on any ideology other than that of the 1 st of September's revolution. The punishment handed down under this law is death. The law also punishes any person who, in any way, associates with, helps or knows of such a group.
2. The Libyan regime continues to maintain a structure where the three powers [the legislative, the executive and the judiciary] all overlap in such an unconstitutional manner as to render it impossible to call culprits to account and bring to justice violators of human rights in Libya . The importance of some form of legal protection for human rights cannot be overemphasized if we are to avert the situation where some people are forced to resort to violent means to resist dictatorship and oppression .
• The Libyan regime is perpetuating the status quo where corrupt personalities and institutions, who have been implicated in serious human rights violations during the last three decades WORLDWIDE, are allowed to continue exercising their illegal and grossly abusive practices TO THE EXTENT THAT SOME HOLD KEY POSITION WITHIN THE HIERARCHY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
As a Human rights organization concerned with monitoring and reporting human rights abuses in Libya and upholding and defending the human rights of the Libyan people, we welcome any move towards improving the human rights situation in Libya . However, we feel that, even though the Libyan authorities have come a long way in improving its political and international image, its human rights file leaves a lot to be desired. The Libyan authorities continue to abuse the basic freedoms of the Libyan people (i.e. hundreds of prisoners of conscience languish in the Libyan prisons) and legitimize their action through a number of legislations and laws that are in direct conflict with all human rights protocols and declarations, to many of which Libya is a co-signer .
We, therefore on behalf of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood prisoners of conscience and their families who are suffering untold hardship and abuses to their basic rights beseech you to champion their cause and to bring to the attention of All the European States, their delegates, prime ministers and concerned officials, their suffering and to bring to bear upon the Libyan regime in a very stern manner, the urgent and unconditional need to bring about the following:
• To release, without any condition or discrimination, all political prisoners and all prisoners of conscience (In particular those who have been sentenced to death, See attachment)
• To stop this fiasco called the Specialist Courts which is another name for the Peoples court. .
• To arrange a delegate to attend these court hearing to insure impartiality and justice of the court.
• To abolish all laws pertaining to aggression and which permit the state to practise these abuses on a wide scale upon its citizens.
Mr. Prime minister, we would like to take this opportunity to offer our willingness to explain our cause to the United Nations High Commission For Human Rights and/or any European government or organisation in person and would welcome an opportunity to present the suffering of the Libyan people to the Commission or European Parliament.
Name: Abdullah Ahmad Izideen
Date of birth: 1950
Place of birth: Gadamis – Libya
Marital Status: Married with 4 children
- Received primary and secondary education in home town of Gedamis
- Studied high school in the city of Gerian
- Received BA in physics in 1973 from Tripoli University
- Travelled to United States to study for Masters and PhD in nuclear physics at Iowa State University
An active member of the Islamic Brotherhood Group in Libya until his detention on 07/06/1998, together with a large number of activists in that group
Sentenced to death on 16/02/2002 in the Libyan People's Court.
Name: Salem Mohamed Abo Hanek
Date of birth: 1957
Place of birth: Benghazi – Libya
Marital Status: Married with 5 children
- Received primary and secondary education in home town of Benghazi
- Studied high school in the city of Benghazi
- Received BA in Chemistry in 1980 from Garyounis University
- Travelled to United Kingdom to study for Masters and PhD in Chemistry at Salford University , Manchester
- An active member of the Islamic Brotherhood Group in Libya until his detention on 07/06/1998, together with a large number of activists in that group
- Sentenced to death on 16/02/2002 in the Libyan People's Court.