Concern for political prisoners in Libya hostage of armed militias

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Militias in the capital Tripoli continue to hold the rule of law hostage in Libya. In recent days, concerns have increased for political prisoners of the previous Gaddafi regime after the deterioration of the health conditions of Abdullah Al Senussi, former head of Libyan intelligence. Al Senussi is said to be seriously ill. According to human rights organizations in the North African country, the militias that control the detention facility, affiliated with the Ministry of Justice, would not allow the detainee to receive the food and medicine he needs.

The Government of National Unity (GNU) should proceed with the amnesty law to allow the national reconciliation process. Still, the ministries in Tripoli remain hostage to the armed groups supported by Turkey after the retreat of Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army. In Libya, the Foundation of the National Human Rights Committee sent a letter to the President of the Presidential Council, Muhammad Al-Manfi, regarding the release of detainees and persons arbitrarily detained.

In its document, the Committee called on executive authorities to release all detainees acquitted by the prosecution and the judiciary, stressing that there is no authority over the court, demanding to respect its orders and implement its sentences to strengthen the rule of law and justice.

The Committee demanded to form a joint committee by the Libyan Presidential Council, led by the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of State for displaced persons and human rights, the Ministry of the Interior. And the security services affiliated to the Presidency of the Council of Presidency, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Defense and the Chiefs of Staff, the General Assembly, the Libyan institutions for human rights, and the Bar Association. The activists stressed the need for significant cooperation between this Committee and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya to examine, monitor, and deal with the conditions of prisoners waiting to be referred to the Public Prosecutor’s Office or acquitted.

“My father has been tortured. I was shocked to know he was imprisoned in a small cell without even a space to sit, forced to standing all the time.” Ebtehal Al Mansour, daughter of the top Gaddafi’s official, said in an exclusive interview with the Italian “Speciale Libia”. Following a verdict of the Supreme Court dated May 12, 2019, which was never implemented, the Ministry of Justice in the new Government of National Unity (GNU), on April 19, 2021, demanded the release of Abdullah Mansour again. Meanwhile, the Attorney General of Tripoli also confirmed that a Libyan court had cleared him of all charges, calling on competent authorities to implement this legal decision.

However, Abdullah Mansour remains in prison, and the family is unable to communicate with him. Some believe that this decision has not been followed up because the government intends to use the release of prisoners from the previous regime as a weapon, political blackmail. Others believe that his release depends on the militia that holds him under arrest, a brutal act, which, if so, should be prosecuted as they are not holding only one person hostage but the whole process of national reconciliation among Libyans.

The woman asked the Ministry of Justice to show the world that it acts legally. “Competent authorities must execute this legal decision as soon as possible. And show the world that Libya is back on the path of legality and justice”. Al-Mansour continued, asking to the United Nations and the Security Council to guarantee and put pressure on local actors and their partners to ensure that all legal decisions are respected.

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