Open letter to EU Foreign Ministers

11/10/2004
Press release

On October 11th, the External Relations Council, meeting in Luxembourg, is expected to discuss the development of EU-Libya relations and in particular, the repealing of the restrictive measures adopted by the EU in application of UN Security Council Resolutions 748 (1992) and 883 (1993) and the lifting of the arms embargo against Libya. The Council will also consider the cooperation on migration issues and the human rights situation in Libya, as well as the perspectives of the full integration of Libya into the Barcelona Process.

On October 11th, the External Relations Council, meeting in Luxembourg, is expected to discuss the development of EU-Libya relations and in particular, the repealing of the restrictive measures adopted by the EU in application of UN Security Council Resolutions 748 (1992) and 883 (1993) and the lifting of the arms embargo against Libya. The Council will also consider the cooperation on migration issues and the human rights situation in Libya, as well as the perspectives of the full integration of Libya into the Barcelona Process.

On that occasion, the International Federation for Human rights (FIDH) wishes to express its serious concern at the human rights situation in Libya, following three issues :

Libya remains a dictatorial regime without any form of democratic expression
The Libyan regime is totally un-democratic. Its President, M. Qaddafi is President for life and may not be destituted. There is no Parliament nor any organ representative of the Libyan people, so the exercise of the power is free of any form of democratic control.
The FIDH is deeply concerned at the absence of independence of the Judiciary, and the lack of liberty of advocates to exercise their profession freely. The Executive power may interfere with the Justice. The directives of President Qaddafi are binding over te Judiciary and he has the power to interfere with the Courts’ final decisions. The President may also set up exceptional jurisdictions.

Independent monitoring of the uman rights situation remains impossible
Independent NGOs cannot settle and exercise in Libya. For ths reason, the Libyan League for Human Rights, a member of the FIDH, has to operate in exile. The UN Committe on Human rights has criticized Libya over the « numerous restrictions in law and in practice, on the right to freedom of expression, and in particular onthe rights to express opposition or criticism of the Government ». ence, the independent monitoring of the uman rights situation in the field remains impossible.

The FIDH has requested on different occasions to be able to visit the country to a mission , but has to date not received any positive response. On the occasion of the accession of Libya to the Chairmanship of the UN

Commission of Human Rights, the FIDH has publicly called upon the Libyan Government to issue a standing invitation to UN Special Rapporteurs, invite independent NGOs and journalist to enter Libya in order to carry out independent investigations.

Asylum seekers and immigrants face xenophobic acts of violence and forced return
While some EU member States are currently considering developing relations with Libya on migration and asylum issues, such policy is highly questionnable in light of the disastrous situation of asylum seekers and immigrants in Libya.

- asylum seekers in Libya donot benefit from the international protection of the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees, which Libya has not ratified. Several examples are reported, of asylum seekers who were sent back to their country of origin where they face torture and ill-treatment, in violation of the principle of non-refoulement. Indeed, Libya has on several occasions sent back Eritrean ationals who had fled their country. They were sent back and are reported to be detained incommunicado in secret detention centres, where they could face torture. This situation was raised to the Libyan government on July 2003 jointly by the UN special rapporteur on Torture and the UN special rapporteur on summary executions.

- Hundreds of African migrant workers living in Libya have been subject to racial violence and killings stemming form anti-black sentiment of the population, in Septembre 2000. Several hundreds of Nigerians have been reported killed an many more injured during those attacks. Migrant workers from Ghana, Cameroon, Sudan, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Nigeria were the victims of attacks by young Libyansallegedly after the Government ordered a crackdown on foreign employment . Those acts remain unpunished. Thousands of others fled the country. If, following the condemnation of the international community, the overnment announced the arrest of different persons and the dismissal of two ministers, it has however failed to submit any the inquiry made by the authorities, persons in relation to these events, sentences, if any, tha where pronounced. Such acts were vigourously condemned by the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, who referred to a « whitch hunt » . n March 2004, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, while reviewing the report of Libya, could nothing but deplore the absence of results of the investigations and subsequent condemnations .

- Over the past years, Libya has undertaken massive repatriation of its migrant population. Several thousands African workers would have been expelled since the year 2000, as noted b the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

For these reasons, the FIDH call upon the EU to make all efforts to ensure that the Libyan Government:
- ensures that the rights to freedom of expression, to freedom of association are made effective and guaranteed to all citizens in Libya as well as all non-citizens;
- ensures that the institutions representing the people be democratically elected in independent and fair elections, by the Libyan people, that the organs of the State be enshrined in constitutionnal rules, guaranteeing political pluralism and the separation of powers;
- tries and condemns the persons responsible for xenophobic acts and acts of violence against immigrants
- ratifies the 1951 Geneva Convention on the tatus of efugees, recognises asylum seekers their individual rights and respects the principle of non-refoulement;
- invites independent NGOs and journalists to investigate freely in the country.

We thank you for the attention that you will pay to the present letter,

Sidiki KABA
President of the FIDH

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