Libya: Arbitrary detention of Messrs. Essam Safar and Ramadan Althoweeb

18/05/2018
Urgent Appeal

LBY 001 / 0518 / OBS 067
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
Threats / Ill-treatment
Libya
May 18, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Libya.

Brief description of the information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and detention of Messrs. Essam Safar and Ramadan Althoweeb, two bloggers who have denounced corruption and the presence of armed militia groups in Libya via social media.

According to the information received, on March 31, 2018, Mr. Essam Safar was arrested by armed militias in Misrata and taken to Al Jawiya prison [1]. One day before his arrest, he was followed and shot in the leg by armed militias, and subsequently hospitalised in Misrata. When his family tried to visit him at the hospital that night, they were told he was not there.

At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Mr. Essam Safar remained detained despite very precarious health conditions at Al Jawiya prison, where he does not have adequate medical attention. Indeed, Mr. Essam Safar was transferred to Al Jawiya prison a day after he had been shot in the leg and before being fully treated at the hospital. As as result his injury was not treated adequately and is worsening. He has neither contact with his family nor with a lawyer.

Mr. Essam Safar’s arrest follows Facebook posts in which he had criticised the religious current and armed militias controlling Libyan security forces as well as the lack of rule of law in the country. His Facebook page has since been taken down. He is facing several accusations including “drug dealing”, “armed attack on security forces” and “attempted murder”.

Moreover, on April 9, 2018, Mr. Ramadan Althoweeb was threatened by the Militia 42 Ain Zara, an armed militia group controlling the Ain Zara municipality, to withdraw and offer an apology for Facebook posts in which he exposed the head of Ain Zara’s municipality, Mr. Abdulwahab Baloq, and released documents proving acts of corruption and the transfer of money to people who are not employed by the municipality. Mr. Ramadan Althoweeb also called for accountability and transparency by the municipality. Since, Mr. Ramadan Althoweeb’s Facebook page has been taken down.

Upon his refusal, Mr. Ramadan Althoweeb was abducted from the street by the Militia 42 in Ain Zara. He is currently detained at Ain Zara prison, a prison known for his acts of ill-treatment on detainees, in the outskirts of Tripoli. He does not have access to his lawyer and family. Additionally, on April 9, 2018, his father was physically attacked by the Militia 42 in Ain Zara while he tried to visit his son in prison. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Mr. Ramadan Althoweeb remained detained at Ain Zara prison and no information could be obtained about possible accusations against him.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the arbitrary detention of Messrs. Ramadan Althoweeb and Essam Safar and their physical and psychological integrity given the widespread use of torture and ill-treatment by Libyan authorities and the diverse armed militias controlling parts of the country, taking place in a context of total impunity.

The Observatory urges the Libyan authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Ramadan Althoweeb and Essam Safar as their detention is arbitrary and aims at silencing their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities, particularly their right to freedom of expression.

In the meantime, the Observatory calls upon the Libyan authorities to ensure their physical and psychological integrity, to ensure they have unhindered access to their lawyers and family as well as to conduct an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned incidents in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Libya, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances Messrs. Ramadan Althoweeb and Essam Safar’s psychological and physical integrity as well as of all human rights defenders in Libya;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Ramadan Althoweeb and Essam Safar as their detention is arbitrary and only aims at punishing them for their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities;

iii. In the meantime, guarantee the right to due process and fair trial of Messrs. Ramadan Althoweeb and Essam Safar, including the unhindered access to their lawyers and family;

iv. Conduct an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned incidents in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;

v. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Ramadan Althoweeb and Essam Safar and all human rights defenders in Libya so that they can carry out their work without hindrance or fear of reprisals;

vi. Comply with all the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular with its Articles 1, 5(b), and 12.2;

vii. Ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Libya.

Addresses:

· Mr. Fayez al-Sarraj, Prime Minister, Tripoli, Libya, Twitter: @FaiezSerraj
· Mr. Mohamed Abdelwahed Abdelhameed, Minister of Justice, Tripoli, Libya. Fax: +218 21 480 4631
· Mr. Aref al-Khoga, Minister of Interior, Tripoli, Libya. Fax: +218 21 340 0461
· Mr. Adel Shaltut, Chief of the Permanent Mission of the State of Libya to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Email: mission.libye@bluewin.ch, Fax: +41 22 959 89 10
· Permanent Mission of the State of Libya to the United Nations in New York, USA. Email: info@libyanmission-un.org, Fax: + 1-212-593-4787
· Embassy of Libya in Brussels, Belgium. Email: info@embassyoflibya.eu, Fax: +3226492113

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Libya in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, May 18, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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