TRIAL seizes the UN Human Rights Committee against Libya
Libya : The Human Rights Committee called upon to intervene in the case of the Aboufaied brothers
Geneva, 12 April 2008 – TRIAL (Track Impunity Always) and Al Karama for Human Rights
On 7 April 2008, the NGOs TRIAL (Track Impunity Always) and ALKARAMA for Human Rights submitted a joint individual communication to the United Nations Human Rights Committee regarding Dr. Idriss Aboufaied and his brother Juma Aboufaied, both victims of grave violations of their fundamental rights by the Libyan authorities.
Mr. Idriss Aboufaied is a well-known human rights defender. He has openly called for political reform and respect for fundamental freedoms in his country. After 16 years in exile in Switzerland, where he was granted asylum, he returned to Libya, encouraged by official promises that he would not be in danger of any prosecution or persecution. In spite of this undertaking by the highest State authorities, Dr. Idriss Aboufaied was interrogated by security agents on 30 September 2006 on his arrival at the Tripoli airport and his passport was confiscated.
He was then arrested on 5 November and detained in a secret location for 54 days, during which period he was subjected to torture and ill-treatment.
Released on 29 December 2006 without having been the object of any legal proceedings, Dr. Idriss Aboufaied reaffirmed, in a published on several information websites, his determination to continue his struggle for democracy. Subsequently, he and other human rights activists, appealed for participation in a peaceful demonstration in Tripoli on 17 February 2007, which aimed at calling for the establishment of the rule of law and the respect of civil and political rights in Libya.
However, he was arrested the day before the planned demonstration, together with 11 other activists, namely: Jamal Alhaji, Fareed Azway, Almahdi Hmeed, Assadiq Hmeed, Faraj Hmeed, Adel Hmeed, Ali Hmeed, Ala Adrisi, Assadiq Gashoot, Bashir Alharis and Ahmad Alabeedi.
They have all been detained in secret locations and tortured for several months without the possibility of contacting their families or the outside world. No lawyer has been authorized to visit them.
Mr. Juma Aboufaied was in turn arrested only a few hours after his brother, probably for having telephonically informed persons abroad about his brother’s arrest.
Since this arrest took place, his family has not been able to obtain any news of him. Although after a few months the authorities acknowledged Dr. Idriss Aboufaied’s detention, they still refuse to acknowledge that of Juma, as well as that of Abdelrahman Al-Gteewi, another citizen arrested the same day in similar circumstances.
The twelve persons whose detention has been acknowledged by the authorities have appeared before the Revolutionary Security Court – a special court which hears cases against opponents of the regime. At the end of several months of closed hearings, during which the accused has not had the benefit of basic judicial guarantees, the Court should hand down his judgment on 15 April 2008. According to the law in force, the accused may face the death penalty.
These events fall within the context of the merciless repression suffered by those who dare to criticize the regime of Colonel Khadafi, who has ruled the country with an iron fist for nearly 40 years now. It is notorious that security forces –the Internal Security Agency in particular– have committed and continue to commit the worst abuses on a large scale and with total impunity. Opponents of the regime are the main target for these practices.
Heavy punishments are generally imposed on dissidents or persons who express ideas deemed as subversive, following unfair trials in which the accused’s rights are grossly violated.
The practice of secret detention for long periods (sometimes for over a decade) is still recurrent and our organizations in particular wish to express their profound concern as to the fate of Juma Aboufaied and Abdelrahman Al-Gteewi.
We also express our great concern concerning the fate of Dr. Idriss Aboufaied, who was urgently transferred on 6 April 2008 to Sabrata Hospital near Tripoli. According to information not confirmed by the authorities, he is suffering from cancer.
The communications submitted on Monday 7 April 2008 to the UN Human Rights Committee request this body to pronounce upon the many violations suffered by the Aboufaied brothers and additionally solicit provisional urgent protection measures, owing to the graves risks the two brothers face.
Libya has been a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights since 15 May 1970, as well as to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment since 16 May 1989. It is therefore bound to respect these international obligations and to guarantee its citizens the effective application of these internationally protected rights.