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Human Rights Watch urges the Libyan government to accelerate
human rights reformto turn words into deedsso that Libya meets its
obligations under international human rights law.
On some issues, such as torture and use of the death
penalty, the government has stated its commitment to reform, and the remaining
issue is more rigorous implementation. In other areas, however, promises of
reform have been stymied by official invocations of the inviolability of state
ideology. However perfect Libyan officials may find that ideology, it should
not be a basis for human rights violations, such as the arrest of people for
expressing their views or seeking to form independent associations.
Many violations in Libya today are also justified as
necessary measures in the fight against terrorism. Human Rights Watch urges
Libyan authorities to use human rights standards as a yardstick: while those
who plan and carry out violent attacks should be prosecuted, authorities must
draw and maintain a clear distinction between perpetrators of violent acts and
those who advocate peaceful political change, however radical their message
might appear to Libyan officials. The government should not use the
contemporary rhetoric of counter-terrorism to justify the suppression of
legitimate political dissent.
In particular, Human Rights Watch calls on the government of
Release all prisoners convicted by the
Peoples Court for having peacefully expressed their political views;
Retry all other cases tried by the Peoples
Court since its inception with full transparency and due process guarantees.
Such trials were marred by due-process violations including long periods of
pre-trial detention and unreasonable restrictions on access to lawyers;
Investigate due process violations by the
Peoples Court during its tenure and hold accountable judges, prosecutors, and
other court officials who violated Libyan law.
Abolish the death penalty in the new penal
code currently being drafted, as called for in the Great Green Charter for
Declare an immediate moratorium on
executions until the new penal code comes into effect;
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.
Immediately release the 131 individuals
deemed political prisoners by the Libyan committee that examined the issue;
Immediately release the political prisoner
Fathi al-Jahmi, who was arrested for criticizing the government and insulting Mu`ammar
Immediately inform the family members of all
prisoners, political and otherwise, of the location of their imprisoned
relatives. If the prisoner is deceased, the government should provide a death
certificate and, if possible, the body or mortal remains.
Repeal Law 71 of 1972, which bans any group
activity based on a political ideology opposed to the principles of the 1969
Repeal articles of the penal code that
criminalize free expression;
Release all individuals imprisoned or
detained solely for exercising their right to free expression;
Allow for the establishment of private media
outlets. Libyan citizens should be free to receive and impart information
through the media of their choice;
Cooperate with journalists associations to
introduce a Publications Law that facilitates a free press;
In the state-run television, radio and
press, provide a spectrum of news and programming that reflects alternative
Cease blocking Internet websites that carry
material protected by the rights to free expression and free information.
Release the Internet writer `Abd al-Raziq
al-Mansuri, who was sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison, apparently due
to his critical writings.
Pass legislation that facilitates the
registration of non-governmental organizations by a non-political body, with
the right to appeal;
Repeal Law 71 of 1972 and related articles
of the penal code that criminalize free association;
Allow unions and professional organizations
to appoint their leadership without government interference;
Allow all Libyan citizens to engage freely
in human rights work, including by forming independent human rights groups.
Promptly investigate all allegations of
torture and ill-treatment in a thorough and impartial way;
Ensure that confessions and other forms of
evidence obtained by means of torture are not admissible in a court of law;
Hold accountable all those found guilty of
using torture or ill-treatment against prisoners and detainees;
Sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Extend a standing invitation to all of the
human rights specialists (special procedures) of the U.N. Commission on Human
Rights, facilitate their visits to Libya, and implement their recommendations.
Eliminate the death penalty as a punishment;
Eliminate all articles that criminalize
peaceful acts and forms of association and expression protected by
international human rights law;
Define terrorism in a focused and narrow
way to exclude peaceful acts and expressions critical of the government.
Make public the names of the committee
members and the manner in which they will work, including the time frame for
their investigations; make public the findings of the Committee;
Hold accountable all officials found to have
used excessive force in Abu Salim, or in any other way to have violated Libyan
Inform the families of killed prisoners
about the cause of death, and, where possible, provide them with the mortal
remains of their deceased relatives;
Compensate the families of prisoners who are
found to have died from the unlawful use of force by security forces.
Sign and ratify the 1951 Convention relating
to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol;
Sign and ratify the Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court.