Libya Must Investigate and Prosecute Grave Crimes of the Past, Says U.N. Committee

The United Nations Human Rights Committee recently condemned Libya following serious human rights violations committed against one of its nationals. According to the decision issued by the Committee, the Libyan authorities are required to conduct a thorough and effective investigation to shed light on the enforced disappearances of Abdussalam Il Khwildy as well as the torture inflicted on him while in detention. Investigations should be carried out in view of to punishing the perpetrators of these crimes and granting appropriate compensation to the victim. TRIAL and Alkarama, the organisations representing the victim, call 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.
 
Abdussalam Il Khwildy was arrested a first time in April 1998, together with his father and three brothers. After the rest of his family members were released, Abdussalam Il Khwildy was kept in secret detention for years without his family ever being informed about his fate and whereabouts. They later learned that he was ill-treated and regularly subjected to torture. He was eventually released in May 2003, without ever having been brought before a judge or a court.
 
He was again arbitrarily arrested on 17 October 2004, kept in detention and, sentenced to two years imprisonment by a special court on 7 August 2006 following a judicial procedure conducted in complete disregard of the most basic fair trial guarantees. On 19 October 2006, as Abdussalam was about to be freed, he disappeared within the prison system. Again, his parents were left without news about his fate and completely lost track of his whereabouts. The Libyan authorities denied his detention and refused to give any information other than that he had been released.
 
In May 2008, Abdussalam Il Khwildy was finally permitted to call his family and inform them that he was in Abou Slim Prison. The victim remained in detention until he was released on 22 August 2011 after the regime change in Libya.
 
In its decision, the Human Rights Committee condemned Libya for multiple violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, one of the most important UN human rights conventions. The Committee found that Abdussalam Il Khwildy has been twice victim of enforced disappearance, as well as torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The Committee also noted that Libya subjected Abdussalam's brother Khaled Il Khwildy to ill-treatment through the severe mental distress and anguish he was forced to endure because the state refused to release any information about Abdussalam's fate or his whereabouts for years.
 
The Committee obliged Libya to conduct a thorough and effective investigation into the disappearance of Abdussalam Il Khwildy and on the torture he suffered in detention. The Committee also underlined Libya's obligation to prosecute, try and punish those responsible for the abuses committed and to provide adequate compensation to the victims.
 
TRIAL (Track Impunity Always) and Alkarama, the organisations representing the victims before the Human Rights Committee, welcome the outcome of the procedure. TRIAL director, Philip Grant, stated: "Libya must now commit to the rule of law and swiftly implement the UN's decision". For Rachid Mesli, director of the legal department at Alkarama, "It is high time Libya faced its past and rejected impunity for such crimes ".
 
Libya has a period of six months to inform the Committee of the actions taken to implement the Committee's decision. Both organisations will closely follow the implementation of the decision to ensure that the victims' rights and dignity are finally restored.
 
For more information, please contact:

- Rachid Mesli, Alkarama Director of Legal Department, +41 22 734 10 06, rachid.mesli@alkarama.org

- Philip Grant, TRIAL Director, +41 22 321 61 10, philip.grant@trial-ch.org

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