CP: 2146, 1200 Geneva 2, Switzerland|
The Libyan League For Human Rights
"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person"
2 March 2002
The right to life is again threatened in Libya
Dear Mrs Robinson
We are again writing to you on the persisting gross violations of human rights in Libya. As you may have read in the international Press or informed by NGOs, including Amnesty International, the Government of Libya, led by the Revolutionary Committees, convicted 92 prisoners of opinion and conscience; sentences issued ranged from long terms and life imprisonment to death by firing squad. The Government, which has continuously misled the international community on its human rights record by consistently maintaining that Libya has no political detainees, went out of its way, in January 2002, to recognize that 162 prisoners were arrested in 1998 for allegedly attempting to reorganize the "Muslim Brotherhood Party" which was, as all independent political parties, banned by the "Revolutionary" Government of President Qaddhafi in 1969. It further informed selected parents of its decision to refer their relatives to "the People's Court" that condemned, on 16 February, 92 of them to inhuman punishment that included several death penalties and a record of life imprisonment sentences.
What is clear now is the fact that this tragic development is in total contradiction with what the Libyan Government presented in its Periodical Reports to the Human rights Committee (CCPR/C102/Add.1) and to the Committee Against Torture (CAT/44/add.3) in which it described Libya as a Prisoner of Conscience-free-Zone and portrayed its judiciary System, including "the people's court" as independent, free and fair. Mr. Said Hafyana, the Libyan Delegate who presented the report on Civil and Political Rights, and Mr. Najib Tleba, who presented the report on the Convention Against torture, both asserted that in "court proceedings, fair trial was strictly observed by the judges who are independent in their judgement and that all judgements could be appealed to higher courts and to the Supreme Court".
Despite those assertions " the People's Court" that issued the sentences has nothing to do with the "free and fair" judiciary system Libya, misleadingly, presented to the international community in the above-mentioned reports. In fact the characteristics of the "People's Court" are more in tune with those of a military interrogation centre than with those of any court of law. The "People's Court" is indeed headed and run, as in interrogation centres, by security personnel and revolutionary zealots that have nothing to do with the precept of law and justice, let alone its practice and proceedings. The location (address) of the court was a highly kept state security secret and the corollary of this secrecy was that no one, not even lawyers or parents were allowed to attend, as in the case of interrogation camp, the "Court" proceedings. It goes without saying that no prisoner was assisted by a lawyer or by any judicial authority that could act as safeguard to his or her rights. This is the "travesty of Justice" Amnesty International rightly condemned in its "News Release" of 18 February when it learned about the case.
This verdict and the judiciary system that allows such an unfair justice system is all the more outrageous and unacceptable that the government of Libya that instituted it is a full-fledged member of the Commission on Human Rights, the ears and eyes of the International community for reporting human rights violations everywhere, including in Libya. In this context, it is clear that there is an incompatibility if not an outright contradiction between Libya's membership of the Commission, and its influential position in that commission as Vice–Chairman of its Bureau, and its continuing open disrespect to and contempt, in Libya, of basic human rights such as the right to freedom of association (Art. 21 ICCPR) which is still considered by the Vice-Chairman of the CHR, Libya, as a crime punishable by death.
The Libyan League for Human Right is deeply concerned by this "laissez faire… Laissez aller" attitude on the part of the office of the High Commissioner. We deeply believe that there are somehow, somewhere a kind of unexplained non-chalance by the UNCHR when it comes to the respect of basic human rights of Libyans as though the time has not yet come for them to fully enjoy, as most people of the world, their basic human rights. This regrettable attitude, in our view, should change to a more positive and active attitude towards the unbearable human rights situation in Libya. The Government of Libya, which has been given sufficient time and ample opportunities by the international community to redress its human rights policies in conformity with its obligations under the different human rights conventions and Covenants, should now be engaged in serious discussions with a view to reversing its policy from a systematic disregard of human rights to a policy that is in line with its international commitments and obligations. It should be made clear to the Libyan Government that it can no longer maintain its present policy of contempt towards the rights of its citizens without jeopardizing its diplomatic position within the UNCHR. It should also be made clear to the Libyan Government that it cannot violate endlessly the spirit and the letter of the International human rights treaties it freely adhered to without putting into question its memberships to those treaties.
Meanwhile, we believe that it is important that your office take, as a matter of urgency, action to secure from the Government the immediate withdrawal of the verdict of the "People's Court" especially the death sentences. We also suggest that steps should be taken to facilitate the enjoyment by all Libyans, regardless of their political belief and affiliations, of the freedom of expression and association, in particular by decriminalizing the expression of opposition views, relinquishing Government controls over the media and literary, and permitting the formation of independently organized political parties and trade Unions in conformity with the Government international's commitments and obligations under the ICCPR.
Wishing you full success in your endeavour………we remain,
The Executive Committee
Ms. Mary Robinson
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
CC: Mr. Alfred Dezayas
Secretary, Human Rights Committee
UNHCHR; Palais Wilson
CC: Mr. Alessio Bruni
Secretary, Committee Against Torture
UNHCHR, Palais Wilson
CC: Mr. G. Lebakine
Commision on Human Rights
UNHCHR, Palais Wilson,
CC: Amnesty International
CC: Fedération Internationale des Ligues
CC: Arab Organization for Human Rights, Cairo