Libya: Release of of Mr. Ramadan Althoweeb and ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Essam Safar

23/05/2018
Urgent Appeal

LBY 001 / 0518 / OBS 067.1
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
Threats / Ill-treatment /
Release
Libya
May 23, 2018

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

New information:

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

According to the information received, on May 10, 2018, Mr. Ramadan Althoweeb was released from Ain Zara prison under the conditions that he would never criticise the municipality and militias again, and that he would offer an official apology to the municipality on Facebook in response to his previous post [1].

Mr. Ramadan Althoweeb had been arrested and detained since April 9, 2018 in relation to 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 (see background information section below).

In addition, Mr. Essam Safar remains detained at Al Jawiya prison since March 31, 2018, despite very precarious health conditions, in connection to 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. He cannot contact his family and does not have access to a lawyer.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the arbitrary detention of Mr. Essam Safar and his 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 Mr. Essam Safar as his detention is arbitrary and aims at silencing his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities, particularly his right to freedom of expression, and to further put an end to all forms of harassment against Mr. Ramadan Althoweeb.

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

Background information:

On March 31, 2018, Mr. Essam Safar was arrested by armed militias in Misrata and taken to Al Jawiya prison [2]. 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.

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.

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”.

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. Mr. Ramadan Althoweeb’s Facebook was temporarily taken down.

Upon his refusal, Mr. Ramadan Althoweeb was abducted from the street by the Militia 42 in Ain Zara. He was further detained at Ain Zara prison, a prison known for his acts of ill-treatment on detainees, in the outskirts of Tripoli. He did 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.

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 Mr. Essam Safar as his detention is arbitrary and only aims at punishing him for his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities;

iii.In the meantime, guarantee the right to due process and fair trial of Mr. Essam Safar, including the unhindered access to his lawyers and family;

iv.Conductan 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 23, 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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