December 12, 2009

Annex : Letters to the Authorities

Letter to Libyan Secretary for Justice

Hi Excellency Mostafa Abdeljelil

Secretary of the General People’s Committee

For Justice

Tripoli

Libyan Jamahireyya

June 25, 2009

Your Excellency,

I am writing to thank you once more for meeting with the Human Rights Watch delegation on April 26th.  We greatly appreciated the opportunity to speak with you and your openness in responding to our questions, especially since we know that you were very busy on that day.

It is important for us to meet with Libyan officials and to understand the position of the General People’s Committee for Justice on the various issues we raised. As we explained to you, Human Rights Watch’s methodology includes speaking to officials, organizations and individuals about different issues so that we can obtain the most complete picture possible.

We are currently in the process of drafting our report related to the mission and have some questions we would like to ask you. Some relate to issues we discussed while we met you, others to developments since that time. We would like to get a response from your office on these issues to enable us to fully reflect the views of the Libyan authorities in our report. For this reason we would appreciate receiving a response by July 5. 

The issues and questions we would like to request further clarification on are the following:

We understand from you and from other sources that there are a number of individuals who remain imprisoned in Abu Salim who have either served their sentences or have been acquitted by courts. We know that you explained that Abu Salim and Ain Zara prisons do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice and would therefore like to know:

-          What recourse do prisoners have to challenge their continued detention by Internal Security?

-          What is the number of prisoners who have completed their sentences yet remain imprisoned in Abu Salim and Ain Zara?

-          What is the number of prisoners who have been acquitted by courts yet remain imprisoned in Abu Salim and Ain Zara?

-          What is the formal legal basis for their continued detention?

We are interested in learning more about the State Security Court and how it functions. We would be grateful to learn from you whether defendants before this court (1) may appeal the court’s verdict and if so on what grounds and to which court; and (2) have the right to appoint lawyers of their own choosing.

-          Could you provide us with the law that established the court and the code of penal procedure that applies to this court?

-          Do defense lawyers have the right to access all elements in the files of defendants before the state security court?

-          How many prisoners are currently imprisoned in Abu Salim or Ain Zara prisoners after convictions by the state security court?

We would also like to ensure that we fully understand the relationship between the People’s Court and the State Security Court. Law Number 5 of 1988, which created the People’s Court, is still on the website of the General People’s Committee for Justice.  Does this mean that the law is still in force? If so how, how does this relate to Law Number 7 of 1373, which abolished the People’s Court and is also available on the same website?

-          Are all cases that were previously brought before the People’s Court now being referred to the State Security court?

-          Were individuals serving sentences handed down by the People’s Court given the possibility of a retrial after the abolition of the People’s Court?  If so which courts were competent to review the verdicts of the People’s Court?

We discussed with you the process of informing the families of victims of the 1996 Abu Salim killings of the death of their relatives.

-          Who is responsible for informing the family members? What information are they providing the families about the cause and the circumstances of death?

-          Are the requests of the Committee of Families of Abu Salim victims being considered by the General People’s Committee? And if so who is responsible for discussing and negotiating the Committee’s demands with its members?

-          What is the status of the investigation into the events that occurred at Abu Salim prison at the end of June 1996?

We understand that over the last couple of years a number of journalists have been brought before the Public Prosecutor or the Press Prosecutor.

-          How many journalists have been prosecuted on charges of libel over the last two years?

-          How many journalists have been convicted and what were the specific charges in those cases?  How many journalists are currently imprisoned because of something they have written? 

-          Can the General Prosecutor or the Press Prosecutor initiate a case against a journalist without permission from the General People’s Committee for Media?

 One of the things we are very interested in is accountability: understanding what procedures exist for lodging complaints against police and internal or external security officers.

-          Can the General People’s Committee for Justice initiate an investigation into alleged violations committed by police officers or Internal Security officers?  Or does this require approval from the General People’s Committee for Security?

-          How many police officers and how many security officers have been charged with torture, ill-treatment or arbitrary arrest and detention over the past 3 years ? How many of them have been convicted and what were their names, ranks and sentences?

We were very interested to hear of the attempt by Libyan citizens to set up two new non-governmental organizations, the Association for Truth and Justice and the Centre for Democracy.

-          Is it true that Internal Security objected to the inclusion of twelve individuals as members in the Association and it was on that basis that the agency revoked the original authorization granted to the organization?

-          We heard that one of the members of the Centre for Democracy was kidnapped in Tripoli on June 30, 2008 and beaten up. Was this incident investigated and has anyone been found responsible for this?

-          How many new non-governmental organizations have been registered over the past 5 years?

Finally, we would also like to request a copy of the following legal texts:

-          The draft refugee law

-          The draft law on associations

-          The law establishing the State Security Court and its statute and procedures.

We thank you very much for our meeting and hope to be able to return to Libya to discuss our reports with you in the near future.

*              *              *

Letter to Libyan Secretary for Public Security

His Excellency General Abdelfattah El-Abeidi

Secretary of the General People’s Committee

For Public Security

Tripoli

Libyan Jamahireyya

June 25, 2009

Your Excellency,

I am writing to thank you for receiving us at your office on April 25, 2009. We greatly appreciated the opportunity to discuss with you issues of mutual concern.

I would also like to thank you for the meeting we had at the Public Relations Office the preceding week where we heard about the training in human rights and international law that your ministry provides to police and security officers and also about how your government addresses the issue of migration.

It is important for us to meet with Libyan officials and to understand the position of the General People’s Committee for Public Security on the various issues we raised. As we explained to you, Human Rights Watch’s methodology includes speaking to officials, organizations and individuals about various issues so that we can obtain the most complete picture possible.

We are currently in the process of drafting our report related to the mission and have some questions we would like to ask you for further clarification. Some relate to issues we discussed while we met you, others to developments since that time. We would like to get a response from your office on these issues to enable us to fully reflect the views of the Libyan authorities in our report. For this reason we would appreciate receiving a response by July 5. 

The issues and questions we would like to request further clarification on are the following:

We understand that there are a number of individuals who remain imprisoned in Abu Salim who have either completed their sentences or have been acquitted by courts. We also understand that Abu Salim and Ain Zara prisons do not fall under the jurisdiction of the General People’s Committee for Justice and would therefore like to know:

-          What is the number of prisoners currently in Abu Salim prison?

-          What is the number of prisoners who have served their sentences yet remain imprisoned in Abu Salim?  What is the legal basis for their continued incarceration?

-          What is the number of prisoners who have been acquitted by courts yet remain imprisoned in Abu Salim and Ain Zara? What is the legal basis for their continued incarceration?

We also discussed with you the issue of the killings at Abu Salim prison in 1996. We understand that Internal Security has informed a number of families of the death of their relatives. We have also heard that a number of families have refused the offer of compensation and insist upon their right to know the truth of what occurred.

-          What is the number of prisoners who died in Abu Salim prison during the events that occurred at the end of June 1996? How many of their families have authorities formally notified of the death of a relative in those events?

-          Why were family members of Abu Salim victims, Fouad Ben Omran, Hussein Al Madany, Farag al Sharrani and Fathi Terbil, arrested in Benghazi on March 26, 2009? What charges, if any, have been brought against them? 

-          Are authorities examining the demands of the families of Abu Salim victims who have refused the compensation and consulting with those families?

As you know, during our visit to Abu Salim prison on April 27, 2009 we briefly met with Ali al Fakheri, known as Ibn al Sheikh al Libi.

-          When did authorities discover the death of Ibn al Sheikh al Libi?

-          When did authorities initiate an investigation into his death and when did they conclude it?

We would like to request a copy or a summary of the findings of this investigation.

Regarding migrants and asylum seekers:

-          How many boat migrants have been interdicted and returned to Libya since May 1st?  What are their nationalities?

-          Where have these boat migrants been detained?  Is there a penalty in law for illegal entry or presence, and, if so, what is it? What is the legal basis for the detention of these migrants, and is there a limit to the time a migrant can be held in administrative detention? Have Libyan authorities granted or promised to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees access to all of the boat migrants who have been returned to Libya since May 1st?

-           How many individuals have Libyan authorities deported by plane in 2006, 2007 and 2008? Please provide a breakdown of their nationalities.

-          How many individuals have Libyan authorities deported via its land borders in 2006, 2007, and 2008?  Please provide a breakdown of nationalities.

We would also like to know:

-          Is Moroccan national Issam Morchid currently detained by External Security or any other security agency in Libya? If so, where is he being held and on what charges?

-          Are Libyan women married to non-Libyan men prevented from handing down the Libyan nationality to their children? What is the domestic law that applies to this situation?

-          Has the investigation into the alleged kidnapping of Daww Mansuri, which occurred on 30 June 2008 in Tripoli, been completed?  If so, please provide us with the findings of that investigation.

One of the things we discussed when we met was the procedure for individuals to lodge complaints against police or security officers and what internal  procedures within the General People’s Committee may exist for this purpose before a case is transferred to the courts.

-          What is the number of civilian complaints received by the General People’s Committee for Security in 2008 and 2007?

-          In 2006, 2007 and 2008, how many police officers have been tried, how many have been acquitted and how many convicted? Of those tried, how many of these cases were related to allegations of torture, ill-treatment, or other violations of human rights?  Can the General Prosecutor initiate an investigation into abuses committed by internal security officers or does this require prior approval from your ministry?

Once again, we thank you very much for our meeting and hope to be able to return to Libya to discuss our reports with you in the near future.

Sincerely,

Sarah Leah Whitson

Director

Middle East and North Africa Division