Human Rights Committee condemns Libya in enforced disappearance case

28.02.2013 ( Last modified: 08.11.2016 )

The United Nations Human Rights Committee condemned Libya in a new case concerning serious human rights violations committed against Abdeladim Ali Mussa Benali. According to the decision issued by the Committee, the Libyan authorities are required to conduct a thorough investigation to shed light on the enforced disappearances as well as the torture he was subjected to while in detention. The Libyan authorities should free him immediately if he is still being detained, or return his remains to his family if he died in custody. Investigations should also be aimed at punishing the perpetrators of these crimes and granting appropriate compensation to the victim. TRIAL and Alkarama, the organisations representing the victim, call again on Libya to comply with the decision of the Human Rights Committee and to work towards the establishment of genuine rule of law in the country.

Abdeladim Ali Mussa Benali was first arrested on 9 August 1995 by members of the Libyan Internal Security Agency (ISA) and held in detention until 15 October 2002. During his first five years of detention he was deprived of any contact with the outside world and his family was never informed of his situation and whereabouts.

On 16 February 2005, Mr Benali was arrested a second time by ISA agents. This time, his relatives received no news about him until the beginning of 2006, when they were informed that he was being kept in Abu Slim prison, near Tripoli. They were allowed to visit him once a month until the autumn of that year. All visits were then suspended as a collective punishment for a riot which took place in the prison at the beginning of October 2006. The prison protests were met with brutal repression. To avoid a bigger massacre, Mr Benali used a hidden cell phone to acquaint external sources of the incident.

Mr Benali disappeared from the Abu Slim prison on 23 March 2007. His disappearance is probably a reprisal measure from the authorities in response to the role he took during the October 2006 events inside Abu Slim Prison During both detentions, Mr Benali was subjected on many occasions to various kinds of serious torture, years-long isolation periods in a sparse, unhealthy underground cell In almost 10 years of detention, Mr Benali was never charged with any offense and he was never brought before any judicial authority.

In its decision, the Human Rights Committee condemned Libya for multiple violations of the basic human rights contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee found that Abdeladim Ali Mussa Benali has twice been victim of enforced disappearance, unlawful arrest, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The Committee also noted that Libya subjected Abdeladim’s brother Mussa Ali Mussa Benali to ill-treatment through the severe mental distress and anguish he was forced to endure because the state refused to release any information about Abdeladim’s fate or his whereabouts for several years.

The Committee obliged Libya to immediately release Abdeladim Ali Mussa Benali, if he is still in detention, or to return his remains to his family if he died in custody. Likewise, Libya is requested to conduct a thorough and effective investigation into his disappearance and the torture he suffered in detention. The Committee also underlined Libya’s obligation to prosecute, try and punish those responsible for the abuses committed, to provide adequate compensation to the victims and to guarantee the non-repetition of those crimes in the future.

TRIAL and Alkarama welcome the recent decision hoping that it may lead to finally establishing the truth about the serious human rights violations committed during the past regime and piercing the veil of impunity that protects the perpetrators of these heinous acts.

This case represents the third case jointly submitted by TRIAL and Alkarama resulting in a final decision. In May 2012 and earlier in February 2013 the Human Rights Committee already condemned Libya for other two cases of multiple human rights violations, including torture and enforced disappearance.

Libya has a period of six months to inform the Committee of the actions taken to implement the Committee’s decision. Both organisations will follow the implementation of the decision by Libya closely to ensure that the victims’ rights and dignity are finally restored.

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