Annual Report: Libya 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Libya 2010

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  • On 10 August, security forces reportedly used excessive force, including live ammunition, knives and sticks, against up to 200 foreign nationals seeking to escape from the Ganfouda Detention Centre near Benghazi, reportedly causing deaths and serious injuries. Most of the escapees were recaptured and returned to Ganfouda. Some inmates were reported to have been assaulted by security officials following the escape attempt.


Throughout 2009, relatives of the hundreds of prisoners believed to have been killed at Abu Salim Prison in 1996 held peaceful protests in Benghazi, Ajdebia and other cities to demand the truth, justice and reparation. The authorities informed some families that prisoners had been killed, and in some cases issued death certificates, but many families rejected the offer of financial compensation as it was conditional on their not seeking judicial redress. In September, the authorities appointed a judge to head an investigation into the incident, but neither his mandate nor other details of the investigation were disclosed. In October, the authorities announced plans to demolish Abu Salim Prison, prompting an outcry by some families of victims who feared the destruction of evidence.

The security forces, particularly the ISA, continued to operate with impunity, and detained and interrogated individuals suspected of dissent or terrorism-related activities, while holding them incommunicado and denying them access to lawyers.

  • On 26 March, three members of the Organizing Committee of Families of Victims of Abu Salim in Benghazi were arrested. Fouad Ben Oumran, Hassan El-Madani and Fathi Tourbil were at the forefront of the demonstrations by families of victims. They and two others arrested on 28 March were released days later without being formally charged.

On 28 October, the General People's Committee for Justice invited people to contact it if they had been detained by "security bodies" without trial or after acquittal or completion of sentences to the Committee in the framework of "national reconciliation". The Secretary of the Committee reportedly said that victims would receive financial compensation for every month spent in prison, and that the "door remained open" for judicial redress. However, the authorities did not publicly apologize for the human rights violations committed, nor were perpetrators brought to justice.

Discrimination against women

Women continued to face discrimination in both law and practice. Some were prosecuted and convicted for zina (having sexual relations outside of wedlock); at least one woman was sentenced to flogging.

  • On 21 October, a group of women from a state-run care centre in Benghazi demonstrated against alleged sexual harassment by officials at the centre. Following the demonstration, officials reportedly put pressure on the women to retract their allegations. On 26 October, defamation charges were initiated against Mohamed Al-Sarit, the journalist who reported on the protest, apparently on the basis of complaints made by some of the women. Investigations were reported to have been initiated into the women's allegations of sexual harassment but no suspected perpetrators were tried.

Death penalty

Amnesty International delegates were permitted to visit Libya for the first time in over five years in May.

Amnesty International reports

Libya: Amnesty International completes first fact-finding visit in over five years (29 May 2009)