<<previous  |  index  |  next>>

III. Recommendations

Human Rights Watch urges the Libyan government to accelerate human rights reform—to turn words into deeds—so 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 Libya to:

Regarding the People’s Court

  • Release all prisoners convicted by the People’s Court for having peacefully expressed their political views;

  • Retry all other cases tried by the People’s 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 People’s Court during its tenure and hold accountable judges, prosecutors, and other court officials who violated Libyan law.

    Regarding the Death Penalty

  • Abolish the death penalty in the new penal code currently being drafted, as called for in the Great Green Charter for Human Rights;

  • 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.

    Regarding Political Prisoners

  • 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 al-Qadhafi;

  • 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.

    Regarding 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;

  • 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 views;

  • 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.

    Regarding Freedom of Association

  • 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.

    Regarding Torture

  • 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 Punishment (CAT);

  • 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.

    Regarding the Draft Penal Code

  • 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.

    Regarding the Committee to Investigate the 1996 Deaths in Abu Salim Prison

  • 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 law;

  • 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.

    Regarding International Human Rights Treaties

  • 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.

    <<previous  |  index  |  next>>January 2006