Extradition of Former Libyan Prime Minister From Tunisia Poses Great Risk for Human Rights Violations

Press Release
June 25, 2012

Extradition of Former Libyan Prime Minister From Tunisia Poses Great Risk for Human Rights Violations

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @strimel

(New York) -- Amnesty International said today the extradition of former Libyan Prime Minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi from Tunisia will put him in danger of torture, unfair trial and even extrajudicial execution, and condemned the decision by authorities in Tunis.

Al-Mahmoudi, who served as prime minister under Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi from March 2006 until he fled to Tunisia last year, was reportedly handed over to Libyan officials in Tunis on Sunday and was then taken to a Libyan prison by helicopter.

Amnesty International repeatedly urged the Tunisian authorities, including the President and Prime Minister, not to extradite him, arguing he could be subjected to human rights violations in Libya.

"While all perpetrators of human rights violations must be brought to justice, by extraditing al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, Tunisian authorities have not only violated their own law but also their international obligation not to return anyone to a country where they are at risk of human rights violations," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Whoever is found responsible for authorizing this extradition, and for violating the absolute prohibition on returning someone to a risk of torture, must be held to account," Sahraoui said.

Amnesty International is concerned al-Mahmoudi may face the death penalty in Libya, which the organization opposes in all cases as the ultimate violation of the right to life.

The former Libyan prime minister travelled to Tunisia after Colonel al-Gaddafi's forces lost control of Tripoli in August last year. He was arrested in late September and sentenced to six months' imprisonment for "illegal entry,"but was acquitted on appeal later that month.

According to the extradition requests seen by Amnesty International, the charges brought against al-Mahmoudi in Libya include "misuse of public money," "insult of civil servants," "threatening security officials with weapons" and "incitement to commit rape" The charges relate to incidents that allegedly took place between 2006 and 2011.

Al-Mahmoudi's extradition was approved by a Tunisian court of appeal in November last year, but was blocked by President Moncef Marzouki, the only authority under Tunisia law to allow such an extradition, who said he would not allow it because of human rights concerns.

The office of the Prime Minister has reportedly said his extradition was due to the decision of the Court of Appeals in November.

Marzouki, who is a former human rights activist, has denied that he authorized the extradition. Under Article 324 of Tunisia's Code of Criminal Procedure, the president has the final decision on all extraditions.

Amnesty International said the former prime minister must be granted access to lawyers in Libya, allowed to communicate with his family and guaranteed a fair trial.

The organization has documented numerous recent cases in Libya where detainees signed confessions under torture or duress. Amnesty International also has evidence of at least 20 cases of deaths in custody in Libya since August.

May 2012: http://livewire.amnesty.org/2012/05/22/%E2%80%98not-what-we-fought-for%E...

April 2012: http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/ntc-must-investigate-...

February 2012: http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/libya-out-control-militias-commit-widespr...

The prison in which al-Mahmoudi is held in is reportedly under the control of the Justice Ministry. Scores of Libya's official and semi-official detention facilities are under the control of armed militia who are responsible for serious human rights abuses, including torture and other ill-treatment and even extrajudicial execution.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.