Libya: Security chaos and systematic armed intimidation of workforce in judicial facilities further undermines the role of the judiciary in restoring the rule of law and monitoring elections
Libya, 21 June 2023 – The undersigned organizations condemn the flagrant assault on Ahmed al-Qataani, Public Prosecutor and Director of the Public Order Prosecution Department in the Court of Appeal in the Benghazi Jurisdiction. On Tuesday, 13 June 2023, an armed group kidnapped al-Qataani from his office and detained him in relation to a corruption case; 24 hours later, he was released without any legal procedures and without any regard for his judicial immunity.
The organizations consider the unlawful kidnapping of al-Qataani as a flagrant violation of the sanctity and work of the Public Prosecution and the judicial system. We believe that this is a dangerous pattern of targeting judicial bodies and institutions in Libya, as their workforce face threats and assaults from armed, military and paramilitary groups on the headquarters of the Public Prosecution and the courts. This prevents their ability to hold individuals involved in gross violations of human rights accountable.
Criminal acts and gross violations of human rights continue due to the policy of impunity
The Libya Platform organizations have been monitoring such crimes and violations for years, considering that the policy of impunity enjoyed by these outlawed armed and paramilitary groups. These crimes and violations, such as targeting of the judiciary, are the main reason for the continuation of criminal acts and gross violations of human rights. Assaults by paramilitary groups on the judiciary between 2015 and 2020 were monitored; they included seven assaults on the headquarters of the Public Prosecution Office and the Libyan courts, and nine cases of kidnapping and inhumane treatment of members of the judicial bodies due to their work, and the assassination of three members of the judicial bodies.
The Libya platform organizations mentioned that on Wednesday, 14 June 2023 the remains of Mohamed bin Amer, a judge of Al-Khums Primary Court, were identified in one of the mass graves in Tarhuna. Bin Amer was kidnapped during the war on Tripoli three years ago. He has been forcibly disappeared since 27 February 2020, during the attack on the city of Castelverde by the al-Kaniyat militia through the city of al-Rawajeh located between Tarhuna and Castelverde.
Thus, victims of violations and crimes continue to face challenges in accessing justice, as the Public Prosecution Office is not equipped with the means to arrest and bring the accused to trial and does not provide any judicial guarantees and guarantees for the victims or witnesses. This made it difficult for any cases related to human rights violations to reach the courts and the possibility of adjudicating them without the intervention of armed groups.
The organizations reaffirms that the Libyan law guarantees the independence of the judiciary in all its functions, and strictly prohibits interference in the tasks or decisions of officials under any justification and from any faction.
The Libyan authorities must assume responsibility immediately and provide the necessary guarantees for the independence of the judiciary
Currently, the Libyan judicial system is facing a very serious security crisis, which may negatively impact the effectiveness of the work of the judiciary and its role in monitoring the conduct of the upcoming elections, considering the frequency of these assaults. The signatory organizations therefore request the officials of the executive authority, which concludes agreements with armed groups to play the role of security institutions, to strictly comply with the laws, provide the necessary guarantees for the independence of the judiciary, and provide a safe environment for State officials.
The organizations call to hold the military groups to account when they commit criminal acts outside the framework of the rule of law and State institutions, swiftly put an end to the policy of arbitrary and secret detention, restructure security institutions, dissolve members of militias and armed groups, and reintegrate them within the framework of legislation regulating transitional justice and reconciliation processes.
- Adala For All Association (AFA)
- Libya Crimes Watch (LCW)
- Aman Against Discrimination (AAD)
- Libyan Center for Freedom of Press
- Aswat media network
- Defender Center for Human Rights
- Independent Organization for Human Rights
- Libyan Center for Freedom of Press
- Libyan Network for Legal Aid