December 12, 2009

II. Recommendations

To the Libyan Government:

Human Rights Watch urges the Libyan authorities to implement the reforms that they have announced and to ensure that these are carried out in full compliance with international human rights law. In particular, Human Rights Watch calls on the Libyan government to:

With respect to freedom of expression:

  • Repeal Law 71 of 1972, which bans any group activity based on a political ideology opposed to the principles of the 1969 al-Fateh Revolution when Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi led a military coup overthrowing the Libyan monarchy;
  • Repeal articles of the penal code that criminalize free expression, including articles 166, 178, 206, 207,  and ensure that the new draft penal code is revised to comply with international human rights law;
  • Present a revised draft penal code to the Basic People’s Congresses for discussion as soon as possible;[1]
  • Release all individuals imprisoned or detained solely for exercising their right to free expression.

With respect to freedom of association and assembly:

  • Allow for the establishment of independent organizations that wish to peacefully exercise freedom of association;
  • Revoke the decision to refuse the registration of the Association for Justice and the Centre for Democracy, the organizations that a group of lawyers and journalists attempted to establish in 2008;
  • Repeal Law 71 of 1972 and related articles of the penal code that criminalize free association and amend Law 19 to allow for the establishment of independent non-governmental organizations;
  • Ensure that individuals seeking to establish associations are not harassed by security forces or prosecuted for the subsequent exercise of freedom of assembly;
  • Revoke General People’s Committee decision number 312/2009 which further restricts freedom of assembly and association with disproportionate and unnecessary requirements.

With respect to prisons under the control of the Internal Security Agency:

  • Immediately release all prisoners acquitted by courts;
  • Immediately release all prisoners who have served their sentences;
  • Implement all legal decisions issued by Libyan courts;
  • Allow the Office of the General Prosecutor to conduct investigations regarding detention in Abu Salim and Ain Zara prisons;
  • Quash all sentences against and immediately release all political prisoners who are imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of their views or for activities protected by freedom of association and assembly;
  • Compensate all who have been arbitrarily detained;
  • Sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance;
  • Issue an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions;
  • Facilitate the visit of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and allow them full access to all centers of detention including those controlled by the Internal Security Agency.

With respect to the Abu Salim prison killing in 1996:

  • Make public the conclusion of any investigation which may have taken place into the Abu Salim incident;
  • Ensure that the investigation is conducted by an independent and impartial judge and that the Internal Security Agency fully cooperates with the investigation;
  • Identify those responsible for the killings and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law in fair proceedings;
  • Implement the North Benghazi Court decision to inform family members of the fate of their relatives;
  • Re-issue death certificates with the correct date, place and cause of death;
  • Immediately cease pressuring or threatening families into accepting compensation and, where requested, allow those who wish to consider compensation time to reflect;
  • Allow families of victims of Abu Salim to demonstrate freely and to freely express their opinions about the process without intimidation or harassment from security forces.

With respect to the State Security Court:

  • Clarify the status of the State Security Court in the Libyan legal system;
  • Ensure that a right of appeal is available to every defendant and clarify which court is competent to hear that appeal;
  • Ensure that defendants have the right to a lawyer of their choice and sufficient access to their lawyers before the court sessions ;
  • Ensure that both private and state-appointed lawyers have equal and full access to the case documents;
  • Make all decisions rendered by the State Security Court publicly available, especially to the defendant and his family.

With respect to the Death Penalty:

  • Order an immediate moratorium on the death penalty;
  • Commute all death sentences to terms of imprisonment;
  • Eliminate the death penalty as a punishment under Libyan law;
  • Become a party to the Second Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which aims at the abolition of the death penalty.

To the European Union and its Member States

  • Before finalizing the Framework Agreement with Libya, ensure that the Libyan government commits to improving its human rights record and respecting the rights of prisoners, journalists and families of victims of human rights violations;
  • Consistent with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, engage with the Libyan government to raise the rights of human rights defenders.

To the United Nations

  • The Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions should request a visit to Libya;
  • The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances should request a visit to Libya;
  • Members of the Human Rights Council should address the recommendations in this report to Libya during its upcoming Universal Periodic Review session.


[1]  The relevant legislative bodies. For more on the political system see Background.