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The Libyan League for Human Rights - Geneva, Switzerland
Tuesday, 20 April, 1999


Abdel Basit al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fheimah have rights Too

       It was with deep sorrow that the Libyan League for Human Rights learned of the Libyan Government's decision to hand over the two Libyan citizens, Abdel Basit al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fheimah, to a foreign judiciary for trial on charges that fall within the sole jurisdiction of the Libyan courts as stipulated in Libyan legislation, which is basically derived from international law and longstanding international practice. The League condemns that extradition, which showed no regard for the most fundamental right of the two accused, namely a citizen's right to a fair (local) hearing and an independent national judiciary.

       The question of a fair hearing and an independent judiciary in Libya was the decisive factor underlying the Security Council's decision to impose the inhuman air embargo after its members agreed and publicly stated, both in and outside the Council, that "Libya offered no guarantees of independent justice or the holding of fair hearings". The voluntary and unlawful extradition of the two accused signifies, primarily, the Libyan Government's admission, for the first time, that there is indeed no independent judiciary or fair hearings in Libya. This is a matter to which the League, since its establishment, has been drawing attention and against the consequences of which it has been warning. It would have been possible to avoid the trial of Libyans by a foreign judiciary, with the consequent disparaging affront to national sovereignty and national honour, if the Government had followed the path of reform in order to create a democratic pluralistic environment that would consolidate the principles of an independent judiciary and fair hearings.

       The League welcomes the Government's (belated) admission that there is no fair judicial system in Libya and takes this opportunity to urge it to take the necessary steps to reconsider its position in regard to the judiciary, and to refrain from interfering in judicial affairs, with a view to ensuring an independent judiciary and fair hearings, as in the case of the two Lockerbie suspects, for all Libyans, thereby saving them from a trial abroad which would neither be fair nor just to our citizens who, like all other persons, have every right to a local hearing conducted by magistrates from their own people who understand their language and are familiar with their customs and traditions. The League also calls upon the Libyan Government to reopen the files of all the past trials, in the light of its own admission that there is no fair judicial system, in order to assess the magnitude of the abuses, identify the persons responsible therefor and compensate the victims. Absolute priority should naturally be accorded to the files of victims of "enforced disappearance", "physical liquidation" and "field trials" which constitute the most abominable of all violations of human rights.

       The League takes this sad opportunity to assure the families of the Lockerbie suspects, as well as the families of the Lockerbie victims, of its solidarity with them in their ordeal and hopes that the two accused will be given a fair hearing that will lead to the discovery of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We should always remember that any violation of any human right of any individual anywhere is a violation of all the human rights of all persons everywhere.

The Libyan League for Human Rights - Geneva, Switzerland

Tuesday, 20 April 1999

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