Libya: Deteriorating health of Mr. Al-Darsi, arbitrarily detained despite a UN decision to release him

 عبد الخالق الدرسي-قوات الردع الليبية

Alkarama received reliable information indicating that the health condition of detainee Mustafa Talib Younis Abdelkhaleq Al-Darsi has been deteriorating. He remains in detained by the Libyan government, despite an Opinion by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) calling for his release.

The information also confirms that Mr. Al-Darsi, who has been detained since 6 January 2016, has had eye surgery, and that his psychological condition in prison is poor. Yet, he keeps waiting for the fulfilment of repeated promises made by the authorities to release him.

The WGAD issued Opinion No. 13/2020 deeming Al-Darsi’s detention arbitrary, following the complaint that Alkarama submitted on 11 October 2016. The WGAD regretted that the Libyan Government of National Accord did not comply with the recommendations of the Working Group regarding Mr. Mustafa Al-Darsi, demanding his immediate release and compensation.

Background of the case

Al-Darsi was arrested in the city of Zliten on 6 January 2016 by individuals in civilian clothes belonging to the Special Deterrence Forces (RADA). They arrested him in front of a mosque after he performed the Asr Prayer. He was taken to the headquarters of the Deterrence Forces located in Souq Al Jum'aa, near Tripoli. Al-Darsi was arrested without a legal warrant and the Forces did not give him any reason to justify his arrest.

In January 2018, he was transferred to the unofficial detention centre at Mitiga International Airport, which is controlled by of the Deterrence Forces.

Mr. Al-Darsi is still there, unaware of the nature of the charges against him, and without having been brought before a judicial authority. Moreover, he has never been allowed to see a lawyer, nor was he given the opportunity to challenge the legality of his detention. His family was also prevented from visiting him for the first eight months following his arrest.

In addition, Mr. Al-Darsi was held secretly for more than four months. His health deteriorated dramatically because he was denied adequate medical care. His family has been banned from communicating with him since they last saw him, five months ago, in a video call that only lasted for ten minutes.

On 15 September 2019, the WGAD transmitted Alkarama’s communication to the Government of National Accord, requesting clarifications regarding Mr. Al-Darsi's situation, and calling fro the respect of his physical and mental integrity. However, the Government of National Accord did not respond to the UN request, nor did it provide any response to the complaint filed by Alkarama.

The Libyan authorities' recognition of Mr. Al-Darsi's detention was delayed until 28 May 2016. Later, his relatives were allowed to contact him for the first time by phone.

The WGAD considered that Mr. Al-Darsi's detention resulted from his peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of thought, belief, and expression, as Mr. Al-Darsi is a preacher belonging to the Maliki school of Islamic Fiqh, a school of thought considered by the Deterrence Forces as “heterodox”.

Responsibility of the Special Deterrence Forces.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have already highlighted that the increasing violations committed by the RADA forces are aimed at silencing every opposing voice that does not conform to the “Madkhalism” ideology to which many members of the Forces belong.

In its Opinion No. 13/2020, the WGAD experts confirmed what was stated in their previous resolutions (No. 18/2019 and No. 39/2018) which consider that the Deterrence Forces, an armed group officially operating under the authority of the Ministry of Interior, fall under the jurisdiction of the GNA state. The experts emphasised that these forces are acting on behalf of the authorities, alongside them, or with governmental consent. Hence, the Libyan government will be responsible for all the violations committed by the Deterrence Forces.

In light of these elements, the Working Group concluded that the arrest, incommunicado detention, and prolonged deprivation of liberty to which Mr. Al-Darsi was subjected to, resulted from the legitimate exercise of his rights to freedom of belief and expression. This detention had no legal basis, in clear violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Libya, making his detention arbitrary.

Alkarama once again urges the Libyan authorities to implement the WGAD’s Opinion calling for his immediate release and compensation of Mr. Al-Darsi, and to ensure accountability for the violations to his rights to life, physical and mental integrity.

In addition, Alkarama insists on reiterating its call on the GNA to put an end to the widespread practices of enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests, and to ensure that Deterrence Forces operate under judicial supervision, given that the Libyan authorities are responsible for the violations committed by these forces.

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