Libya: Ali Suleiman Abdel Sayed released after more than seven years of injustice

قوات ليبية

Alkarama has learned that the Libyan authorities have released Libyan citizen Ali Suleiman Masoud Abdel Sayed last Thursday, 25 January 2024, after more than seven years of arbitrary detention. 

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has recognized the arbitrary nature of his deprivation of liberty and stressed the Libyan government's responsibility for the violations committed against him. During its 97th session, the Working Group issued its Opinion No. 48/2023 regarding Abdel Sayed’s detention whose case was submitted to the UN by Alkarama in a communication dated 27 March 2023. 

Enforcedly disappearance following his arrest 

Abdel Sayed was arrested on 17 August 2016 on a public road in Ain Zara, south of Tripoli, by men in uniform claiming to be from the 8th Security Division of the Deterrence Militia led by Haitham Tajouri, who officially declares to be affiliated with the Government of National Accord's Interior Ministry. The next day, his son tried to find out where he was being held, including the militia’s headquarters, to no avail. He then contacted several authorities, including the Ministry of Interior and the Attorney General's Office, to find out the fate of his father, without success. 

On 16 March 2017, Alkarama, on behalf of the family, submitted an urgent appeal to the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances to directly locate Abdel Sayed. However, the Libyan authorities never responded to the Working Group's communications. 

A year after his arrest, Abdel Sayed’s family was able to learn that he was alive and that he was "being held in a secret center controlled by a militia" through messages he was able to send through fellow released detainees. In May 2020, after being transferred to Al Ruwaimi prison, the victim was able to receive a visit from his family, during which he revealed that he had been tortured in detention. 

On 14 April 2021, five years after his arrest, Abdel Sayed made his first appearance before the Public Prosecutor, who then informed him that he was accused of "concealing facts and documents" without further explanation. On 17 December 2022, Abdel Sayed appeared before the Third Criminal Chamber of the Tripoli Court, which acquitted him of all charges by a verdict dated 20 February 2023. Despite the court's decision, which became final, he was not released and returned to the Mitiga detention centre, controlled by the Deterrence militia, before finally being released. 

The Working Group stresses arbitrary nature of detention 

The UN independent experts acknowledged that Abdel Sayed had been forcibly disappeared from the time of his arrest until the official recognition of his detention, a manifest form of arbitrary detention. It was also noted that his continued detention despite the existence of a judicial decision of acquittal made his deprivation of liberty arbitrary.  In addition, the Working Group found several violations of the victim's right to a fair trial, including the right to be tried within a reasonable time. The experts also stressed that denying Abd al-Sayed the right to receive visits and access a lawyer violated his human rights. 

In its Opinion, the Working Group urged the Government "to take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Mr. Abdel Sayed without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms, including those set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights".