Libya: Mustafa Taleb Younes Abdelkhalek Al Darsi released after 8 years of arbitrary detention
Mustafa Taleb Younes Abdelkhalek Al Darsi, 55, was released late in the afternoon on 30 April 2023 after eight years of arbitrary detention in a worrying state of health, Alkarama learned from family sources.
Arrest by RADAA militias
Al Darsi was arrested in Zliten (180 km east of Tripoli) on 9 January 2016 by members of the "deterrent forces" RADAA, a militia claiming the authority of the Government of National Accord. The men, in civilian clothes, arrested the victim without a warrant and without informing him of the reasons for the arrest, then took him to the militia premises in Souk Al Joma near Tripoli.
According to his family, Al Darsi was arrested because he had previously headed the administration of the Awqaf and Islamic Affairs of Benghazi, the competing government that controls the eastern part of the country. It was only after several months of secret detention that Al Darsi's family was finally able, thanks to acquaintances, to know his place of detention and see him for a few moments on 28 May 2016 through a screen at Mitiga airport, located 11 km east of Tripoli and used as a headquarters.
Mitiga Airport, the former US air base until 1970 (Wheelus Air Base) also serves as a place of detention for people arrested by RADAA forces and houses more than a thousand detainees without any control of the judicial authorities.
At the request of Al Darsi's family, Alkarama submitted his case to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in a communication dated 11 October 2016 asking it to intervene urgently with the Libyan authorities to urge them to release the victim. On this occasion, Alkarama also stressed the urgent need for the Libyan authorities to ensure that all militias, including RADAA forces, are subject to effective judicial control allowing persons deprived of their liberty to exercise their fundamental rights.
The UN Working Group granted Alkarama's request and recognized the arbitrary nature of Al Darsi's deprivation of liberty in Opinion 13/2020 calling on Libya to release him immediately in accordance with its treaty obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it ratified in 1970.
However, the Opinion of the UN independent experts was never implemented by the Tripoli Prosecutor General and the official political authorities and Al Darsi was arbitrarily detained.
Alkarama has been in regular contact with the Al Darsi family and has sent several follow-up reports to the special procedures, including on 12 August 2021 and 27 March 2023, to inform them of the victim's situation, the deterioration of his health, the ban on family visits and the authorities' refusal to implement the Working Group's Opinion.
Alkarama recalls that the release of Al Darsi does not absolve Libya of its responsibilities resulting from the violations of its rights during the eight years of arbitrary detention and calls on the State party to punish those responsible for these violations and to grant the victim appropriate compensation in return for the health problems that are the direct consequence of these eight years of suffering.