« When a head of state publicly calls for the physical elimination of his country's political dissidents and
vows to punish families and tribes if they do not inform on relatives, then human rights in that country must
be in dire situation»
Amnesty International 1997 Report on Libya.

For the twenty eighth consecutive year, and ever since the violent overthrow of the Libyan civil Government on 1st September 1969, the Human Rights situation in Libya has continued to worsen every year. 1996-1997 is not, unfortunately, an exception as it is considered by independent observers to be the worst ever. Amnesty International in an assessment of the 1996 situation concluded that « In Libya gross human rights violations are taken place not only with total impunity but also are sanctioned by the highest level, in flagrant violation of the country's solemn obligations under international human rights treaties». The Arab Organization for Human Rights, in turn, reported in its 1996 annual report on Human Rights in the Arab World that «the human rights situation in Libya continued to be plagued by gross violations of fundamental rights and freedoms, while the country's legislative and legal structure continued to block any opportunities {to hope} to improve this situation.» It went on to say that this already intolerable situation «suffered a further blow in April 1996 when the Libyan Government promulgated a new act prescribing death penalty» for a whole range of business-related activities, including dealing in a foreign currency.

That situation has now been worsened further by the enactment of a new law, «The Charter Of Honor», that institutes collective punishment of Libyans as a rule of the land. The very principle of collective punishment, that the LLHR has systematically denounced since its imposition on Libya by the UN Security Council in April 1992, is now not only condoned but also carried out against the Libyan people by the same Libyan Government that claims in its dealings with the Security Council to refuse its collective sanctions for they run against «justice and equity». The Directives of President Qadhafi leave no doubt about the content and the application of the collective punishment Law against Libyans:» When traitors [political opposition] are discovered within a tribe, the Libyan people automatically consider the whole tribe as traitors, they disdain it and humiliate it. Such a tribe should defend its honor; it should, from within, look for treason, detect it and contain it and disown any of its clans which are involved in treason.».

It is in this context of contempt for human rights, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the numerous International Covenants and Declarations of which Libya continues to be a full member, that the Libyan Government continues to violate and abuse the rights of its citizens. The abuses have, since September 1996, included arbitrary arrest and detention without charge or trial of political detainees, widespread use of torture and deaths in custody after torture, extrajudicial executions and other arbitrary executions, disappearances, excessive use of lethal weapon against civilians etc... These and other abuses combined with the customary Government's disregard of humanitarian calls have intensified the climate of extreme fear in the country where all roads to democratic dialogues have been blocked by the government that allows no margin for differences or pluralism. That Government still persists in its illegal policies of denying citizens the free enjoyment of their civil and political rights as no election at all, at any level, has taken place during the last twenty eight years. With the exception of the ruling elite, no one in Libya enjoys the right to security of life , liberty, private property, physical or mental integrity or equality before the Law. The right to a free trial, the right to freedom of assembly, the right to freedom of association, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, All these basic rights continue, as before, to be completely ignored and the mere claim of these rights is still considered to be a crime punishable, as in the case of claiming the rights of association, by death.

This year has witnessed the expansion of the circle of confrontation between security forces and members of «Revolutionary Committees» on one hand and armed opposition groups that define themselves as «Islamic groups» on the other. Clashes and confrontations between the two sides have been reported throughout the year . The town of Derna, in particular, witnessed a wave of violence in which several innocent people were killed. There are reports that order were issued to the security force to shoot and eliminate all known or suspected members or supporters of «Islamic Groups» instead of arresting them. That order may have found even extra-territorial execution as three Libyans opposition activists were killed abroad in mysterious circumstances during that period. The killing of Mr Ali Abu Zeid, stabbed to death in London; of Mr Mohammed Ben Ghali, gunned down in Los Angeles and the stabbing to death of Mr. Amer Hisham in Valletta may have been connected to that order, especially that the three were known for their sympathy and support to Islamic groups.

Through its constant and systematic violation of human rights the Libyan Government has been the cause of many tragedies from which the Libyans will long continue to suffer. It is high time that the authorities realize that their disregard of human rights will bring Libya nothing but further tragedies. The LLHR is convinced that subjection and repression are not the right prescription for Libya's problems as they can only generate resistance and rebellion whereas freedom, being the fruit of human civilization and culture, is not only a prerequisite for any real development , progress and harmony, but also the only guarantee that military confrontation among Libyans will not spread and intensify.

The LLHR takes this opportunity to call, once more, on the Libyan Government to take swift actions to ensure that all human right abuses are ended. We also call on the UN Commission on Human Rights and on the UN Commissioner for Human Rights to make that Government accountable for all breaches of the Human Rights Covenants and Declarations that the Libyan Government willingly acceded to, including the strict respect of all clauses of the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights of which Libya became a full member on 15 May 1970.

1st September 1997
The Executive Committee***

*** Mr. Mansour KIKHIA, a member of the Executive Committee, did not clear this document. He disappeared in Cairo, Egypt, on 10 December 1993. Unconfirmed reports exist about his possible extradition to Libya where he may have been executed.

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