Former Libya Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi

© 2011 Reuters

M. Fouad Mebazaa   

Acting President of the Republic of Tunisia

Re: Extradition of Mr. Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi to Libya

Your Excellency:

Human Rights Watch writes to you as a matter of urgency to ask that you decline ordering the extradition to Libya of Mr. Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, the former Libyan prime minister, currently in custody in Tunisia.

We firmly believe that Mr. al-Mahmoudi would face a real risk of torture if returned to Libya and therefore, according to Tunisia’s obligations as a party to the United Nations Convention against Torture, must not be returned.

Human Rights Watch has documented recent cases of mistreatment of detainees by militia groups in Tripoli and Misrata, including beatings and some electric shock torture, as well as apparent summary executions of suspected Gaddafi supporters by anti-Gaddafi fighters. The apparent killings in custody of Muammar Gaddafi and his son Muatassim Gaddafi by members of armed groups fighting in Sirte also raise significant concerns about Mr. al-Mahmoudi’s potential treatment if returned. 

The Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) has pledged to treat all detainees fairly and to investigate cases of abuse, but our research shows that they do not exercise adequate control over all security forces and over Libya’s many detention facilities to guarantee Mr. al-Mahmoudi’s safety.

In addition, Libya currently lacks a functioning justice system that can ensure that detainees receive due process. Since the fall of the Gaddafi government in late August 2011, the NTC and local armed groups have arrested thousands of individuals across the country and held them without judicial review.

As stated above, Tunisia has an absolute obligation not to return anyone to a country where he or she would face a real risk of torture. To extradite Mr. al-Mahmoudi to Libya would violate this obligation and constitute a serious breach of Tunisia’s obligations under international law.

We hope you will therefore refrain from issuing a decree ordering Mr. al-Mahmoudi’s extradition. Should you require further information about the human rights situation in Libya, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,                    

Sarah Leah Whitson    

Executive Director Middle East and North Africa Division

Cc: 

M. Mohamed Mouldi Kefi, Minister of Foreign Affairs

M. Habib Essid, Minister of the Interior

M. Lazhar Karoui Chebbi, Minister of Justice

M. Ghazi Jomma, Permanent Representative of Tunisia to the United Nations