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LIBYA: ARBITRARY DETENTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST AL-DAGUEL FOR FACEBOOK POSTS

The International League Against Arbitrary Detention urges the Government of Libya to take all the necessary actions to implement the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Opinion No. 11/2022 concerning Omar Al Mukhtar Ahmed Al Daguel (Libya) starting for the Government of Libya to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Al Daguel and to accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations in accordance with international law.


Read the full WGAD Opinion concerning Omar Al Mukhtar Ahmed Al Daguel (Libya): Opinion No. 11/2022


ARRESTED AND DEPRIVED OF LIBERTY BY ARMED MILITIAS CONTROLED BY GENERAL HAFTAR


Mr. Al Daguel was arrested and deprived of liberty by armed militias wearing military uniforms and controlled by General Haftar and was held in Al Koufiya Prison.  The Working Group  found that the Government of Libya – the Government of National Accord – is fully responsible for the actions of those militias affiliated with General Haftar who carried out the detention of Mr. Al Daguel and who are in control of Al Koufiya Prison where he remains deprived of liberty.


SUBJECTED TO ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE TWICE


Mr. Al Daguel was arrested at home on 13 July 2016 without an arrest warrant and taken to an unknown location and secretly detained for a month, before being transferred to Al Kouifya Prison in Benghazi in August 2016, where his family members were allowed to visit him for the first time. However, Mr. Al Daguel was subjected again to incommunicado detention in March 2020 for several months, before reappearing in June 2021 in Al Kouifya Prison.


The Working Group therefore found that Mr. Al Daguel was subjected to de facto enforced disappearance twice in breach of a breach of articles 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 9 of the Covenant. The Working Group recalled that enforced disappearances are prohibited by international law and constitute a particularly aggravated form of arbitrary detention and concluded that given that Mr. Al Daguel was unable to contact anyone and especially his lawyer, which is an essential safeguard in ensuring the ability of any detainee to personally challenge their detention, his right to an effective remedy under article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 2 (3) of the Covenant was also violated.


Therefore, Working Group found that that the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Al Daguel lacks a legal basis and is thus arbitrary and falls under category I.


DETAINED FOR FACEBOOK POSTS CRITICIZING HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES COMMITTED BY MILITIAS


The detention of Mr. Al Daguel resulted from the exercise of his fundamental right to freedom of expression and opinion through his postings on Facebook, in which he criticized various human rights abuses committed by militias controlled by General Haftar.


The Working Group observed that attempts to prevent Mr. Al Daguel from voicing his criticism through an arrest suppress the free expression and civic activism of individuals and therefore found that Mr. Al Daguel’s deprivation of liberty is arbitrary, falling within category II, as it resulted from his legitimate exercise of the rights and freedoms under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 19 (1) and (2) of the Covenant.


BLATANT DENIAL OF A RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL AND DUE PROCESS


The Working Group notes the denial of Mr. Al Daguel’s right to contact his lawyer and receive visits from his family while being held incommunicado and reiterated that denial of access to a lawyer is a violation of article 14 (3) (d) of the Covenant, which guarantees the right for those accused of penal offences to defend themselves through legal assistance.


Moreover, the Working Group observed that since his arrest in 2016, Mr. Al Daguel has never been brought before a judge and no formal charges have ever been presented. This means that he has been detained for more than six years without any formal notification of charges. The Working Group concluded that this is a blatant denial of the right to a fair trial, of the right to be notified of charges and of the right to be tried without undue delay, giving Mr. Al Daguel’s deprivation of liberty an arbitrary character that falls within category III.


CONCLUSIONS OF THE UN WORKING GROUP AGAINST ARBITRARY DETENTION


In light of the foregoing, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered that the deprivation of liberty of Omar Al Mukhtar Ahmed Al Daguel is arbitrary and falls within categories I, II and III because it is in contravention of articles 3, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 2, 9, 14 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recommended that the Government of  Libya take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Mr. Al Daguel without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms, starting with his immediate release and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.


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