[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Feb 4 22:55:08 CST 2008
Out of Guantanamo into Libya's torture chambers
Despite some improvements in recent years, serious rights abuses continue
A new report by Human Rights Watch Libya: Rights at risk notes that the
absence of a free press, the ban on independent organisations, the torture
of detainees, and the continued incarceration of political prisoners, some
of them "disappeared," remain matters of deep concern.
To date, international engagement with the oil-rich country has focused on
counter-terrorism and business ties. "Human Rights Watch welcomes improved
relations between Libya and other governments, but not at the expense of
human rights and the rule of law," the report says.
According to the report, scores of individuals are in prison in Libya for
having engaged in peaceful political activity, and some have
"disappeared." Law 71 bans independent political activity, and violators
can be put to death.
In February, 2007, Libyan security agents in Tripoli arrested 14
organisers of a peaceful demonstration planned to commemorate the
anniversary of a deadly crackdown on demonstrators in Benghazi in 2006. At
least 12 of the detainees are currently on trial and could face the death
penalty on allegations that they planned to overthrow the government, arms
possession, and meeting with a foreign official (apparently from the US).
To Human Rights Watch's knowledge, none of the 14 men has advocated
Dr Idris Boufayed, the demonstration's main organiser, whom the government
had previously detained for 55 days in November-December 2006, is an
outspoken critic of Muammar Gaddafi. Jamal al-Haji, also detained, is a
Danish citizen to whom Libya has refused to grant Danish officials access.
2 other detainees, Ahmad Yusif al-Ubaidi and Al-Sadiq Salih Humaid, are
reportedly not receiving treatment for medical ailments.
Most disturbingly, 2 of the detainees have mysteriously disappeared. Abd
al-Rahman al-Qotaiwi, a 4th-year medical student involved in planning the
demonstration, and Juma Boufayed, who had given media interviews following
the arrest of his brother Idris Boufayed, have been missing since their
Despite repeated requests from Human Rights Watch, the Libyan government
has failed to provide any information about the 2 men.
Fathi al-Jahmi is Libya's best-known political prisoner. Internal security
forces 1st arrested him in October 2002 after he publicly criticised
Gaddafi and called for free elections, a free press, and the release of
political prisoners. A court sentenced him to 5 years in prison, but an
appeals court ordered his release in March 2004.
That same month, after al-Jahmi again criticised Gaddafi and called for
Libya's democratisation, security agents promptly re-arrested him. His
wife and eldest son were also arrested and detained without charge for
more than 6 months, ostensibly "for their safety." Al-Jahmi remains in
detention today. His trial began in late 2005, but has since stopped with
the government providing no further information or announcing the charges
against him. According to his court appointed lawyer, al-Jahmi may face
the death penalty for supporting or calling for the establishment of "any
grouping, organisation or association proscribed by law."
According to al-Jahmi's family, the government has denied them visits
since August 2006. His brother told Human Rights Watch: "We don't know at
this moment if he's dead or alive."
Then there is the issue of Guantanamo returnees. Over the past year, the
US government has returned 2 Libyan citizens from the Guantanamo Bay
detention facility to Libya, and both are currently in detention without
charge and apparently with no access to a lawyer. According to the US
government, the Libyan authorities gave assurances of humane treatment
prior to the returns.
On or around December 17, 2006, the US returned Muhammad Abdallah Mansur
al-Rimi, age 39, after 4 years in detention at Guantanamo Bay.
The US alleged that al-Rimi was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting
Group, an armed group dedicated to overthrowing Gaddafi. Al-Rimi denied
the charges but told his Guantanamo review tribunal: "I have a problem
with the Libyan government and it is a long story."
According to the Gaddafi Development Foundation, a quasi-governmental
organisation run by Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, al-Rimi was treated for
tuberculosis upon return. Shortly after his arrival in the country, a
foundation official said the Libyan authorities did not want al-Rimi, and
he would "go back to his family soon."
More than 1 year later, al-Rimi remains in detention.
Despite repeated requests, as of January 2, this year, the Libyan
government has failed to provide Human Rights Watch with any information
on the whereabouts of al-Rimi.
The US State Department, however, told Human Rights Watch that US
officials visited al-Rimi on 2 occasions in August 2007 and on December
Al-Rimi said Libyan security forces were detaining him but were treating
him well, the State Department said, including medical treatment for an
arm injury he sustained during a scuffle with guards at Guantanamo.
Human Rights Watch could not confirm the claim.
The December meeting was convened in an office of the state security
services, and not in the place of al-Rimis detention. The meeting took
place in the presence of Libyan officials and an official from the Gaddafi
Development Foundation. Al-Rimi did not know the charges against him, and
he apparently had not seen a lawyer since his return.
He had received no family visits, he allegedly said, but his wife is in
Afghanistan, and they have no children.
A January 2 statement from the Gaddafi Development Foundation said the
organisation had visited al-Rimi on December 25, and that he was receiving
medical treatment for his injured arm.
The second returnee was Sofian Ibrahim Hamad Hamoodah, 48, whom the US
sent back on or around September 30, 2007, after 5 years in Guantanamo
The Libyan authorities have also failed to provide Human Rights Watch with
information about his location or case.
According to the State Department, US officials first visited Hamoodah on
December 25, 2007. As with al-Rimi, security forces were holding him on
unknown charges and apparently without access to a lawyer, but he did not
complain of maltreatment. He was scheduled to receive a family visit on
December 27, he told the US.
The Gaddafi Development Foundation statement said it also visited Hamoodah
on December 25, and that he was subsequently granted a family visit. The
Foundation was providing a Tripoli apartment for Hamoodahs family, the
In April 2007, the US wanted to return a 3rd Libyan from Guantanamo, Abdul
Raouf al-Qassim, but they took him off the transfer list after protests
from members of Congress and human-rights groups.
On or around December 19, 2007, the US released a fourth Libyan from
Guantanamo Bay, Omar Deghayes, 38, but sent him to the UK, where he has
The UK authorities initially detained him but then released him on bail.
According to the State Departments 2006 human-rights report on Libya,
incidents of "torture, arbitrary arrest, and incommunicado detention
remained problems." Methods of torture included chaining prisoners to a
wall for hours, clubbing, administering electric shocks, applying
corkscrews to the back, pouring lemon juice into open wounds, breaking
fingers and allowing the joints to heal without medical care, suffocating
with plastic bags, prolonged deprivation of sleep, food and water, hanging
by the wrists, suspension from a pole inserted between the knees and
elbows, cigarette burns, threats of dog attacks, and beatings on the soles
of the feet.
Matters have been exacerbated by stiff penalties. Law 71 bans any group
activity based on a political ideology opposed to the principles of the
al-Fateh Revolution, which brought Gaddafi to power in 1969.
Article 3 of the law imposes the death penalty on those who form, join or
support such groups, and over the years, Libyan authorities have
imprisoned hundreds of people for violating this law and sentenced some to
For more than 2 years, Libya has said that experts are drafting new penal
and criminal procedure codes.
According to the Secretary of Justice, in the new penal code, the death
penalty "will be reduced to the greatest possible extent," although it
will remain in place for serious crimes such as terrorism. As of today,
the government has not introduced a new penal code or code of criminal
Article 166 of the penal code imposes the death penalty on anyone who
talks to or conspires with a foreign official to provoke or contribute to
an attack against Libya while Article 167 decrees up to life in prison for
conspiring with a foreign official to harm Libyas military, political or
Article 178 imposes life imprisonment for the dissemination of information
considered to "tarnish (the country's) reputation or undermine confidence
in it abroad."
Article 206 imposes the death penalty on those who call "for the
establishment of any grouping, organisation or association proscribed by
law," and on those who belong to or support such an organisation, while
Article 207 imposes the death penalty on those who spread within the
country "theories or principles that aim to change the basic principles of
the constitutional laws or the fundamental structures of the social system
or to overthrow the states political, social, or economic structures, or
destroy any of the fundamental structures of the social system using
violence, terrorism, or any other unlawful means."
The head of Libya's Internal Security Agency told Human Rights Watch in
May 2005 that the government had formed a committee to investigate the
1996 deaths of prisoners in Abu Salim prison at the hands of guards. The
government says that guards responded properly to a revolt in which some
prisoners escaped. Libyan human rights groups abroad and a former prisoner
say security forces executed hundreds of prisoners after the authorities
had regained control of the prison.
More than 1 decade later, the government has failed to release important
details on the incident, including the number of people killed on June 28
and 29, 1996 and the names of the dead.
(source: The East African)
Saudi Arabia beheads 3 foreigners
Saudi Arabia beheaded an Indian, an Iraqi and a Pakistani on Monday after
they were convicted of drug smuggling, the interior ministry said.
Rashid Akbar Hussein Eddin of India and Wassee-Allah Rafee-Allah Khan of
Pakistan were found guilty of trafficking opiates, while Iraqi Ahmed
al-Khazali was convicted of smuggling hashish, the ministry said in
separate statements carried by the official SPA news agency.
Their executions bring to 23 the number announced by Saudi authorities so
far this year, after a record 153 people were put to death in 2007.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking can all carry
the death penalty in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, where
executions are usually carried out in public.
(source: Agence France-Presse)
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