|Libya: Incommunicado Detention / Health Concern|
Libya: Incommunicado detention/ health concern
PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 19/015/2004
UA 266/04 Incommunicado detention/ health concern
17 September 2004
Fathi al-Jahmi (m), aged 63
Fawzia 'Abdullah Gogha (f), his wife
Muhammad Fathi al-Jahmi (m), their son
Amnesty International is seriously concerned for the health and safety of former prisoner of conscience Fathi al-Jahmi. There are also concerns for the safety of his wife, Fawzia ‘Abdullah Gogha, and their eldest son, Muhammad Fathi al-Jahmi who were reportedly detained along with him on 26 March. Amnesty International received information that Fathi al-Jahmi is ill and requires medical treatment, which it appears he is being denied.
Fathi al-Jahmi, his wife and his eldest son were reportedly taken from their home in Tripoli by the authorities on 26 March. This happened shortly after he gave several media interviews, including to the US-based Arabic channel al-Hurrah and to the Dubai-based Arabic channel al-’Arabiya, in which he called for reform within Libya. After the interviews, basic services to his house, such as his telephone connection, were reportedly suspended.
Though his family have reportedly received no confirmation of the exact whereabouts of Fathi al-Jahmi, Fawzia 'Abdullah Gogha and their son Muhammad Fathi al-Jahmi, Amnesty International has received information confirming that Fathi al-Jahmi is being held by the Libyan authorities. The authorities apparently claim that he is being held for his own protection because of alleged public outrage generated by his media interviews. The authorities are reportedly investigating whether to press charges against him, though so far, no charges appear to have been made. Throughout this period, Fathi al-Jahmi, his wife and eldest son have reportedly been denied access to the outside world, including to lawyers, relatives and doctors.
Fathi al-Jahmi was adopted as a prisoner of conscience in 2002, after his arrest and imprisonment following his statements at a session of the Basic People’s Congress in al-Manshia, Bin Ashour, Tripoli on 19 October 2002. At the Congress, he is reported to have stated that reform within Libya would never take place without legal and political change such as the introduction of a constitution, pluralism and democracy.
Following his arrest in October 2002, Fathi al-Jahmi was tried, sentenced and imprisoned merely for openly expressing his views, by a People’s Court which is known to try political cases, On 10 March 2004 his case was heard before the People’s Court of Appeal and he received a suspended sentence of one year’s imprisonment. He was released on 12 March 2004, before apparently being taken into custody on 26 March 2004.
In recent years, the Libyan authorities have taken some positive steps to address the human rights situation. In 2001 and 2002 nearly 300 prisoners, including prisoners of conscience detained since 1973 were released. Libya has also been opened to a degree of international scrutiny. In February 2004, the Libyan authorities authorized a visit by Amnesty International. In April 2004, Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi publicly called for a number of legal and institutional reforms.
However, severely restrictive legislation curbing the rights to freedom of expression and association is still used in Libya to repress those suspected of being opposed to or critical of the current political system. This has lead to the imprisonment of prisoners of conscience. In addition, real or suspected political opponents are held in prolonged incommunicado detention, without access to the outside world, by the Internal Security Agency. During this period, torture and ill-treatment is widely reported and its primary function appears to be to extract "confessions".
AI Index: MDE 19/015/2004
17 September 2004