El Abani (El Ouerfeli) v. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Burden of Proof | Interim/Urgent Measures | Deprivation of Liberty | Evidence | Judicial Protection | Juridical Personality | Refusal to Disclose Fate | Relatives as Victims | Effective Remedy

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Related Crimes

The Committee made a finding of inhuman treatment both with respect to the victim, due to the fact that he was exposed to acts of torture, kept in captivity for nearly 18 years and prevented from communicating with his family and the outside world, and with respect to his family, due to the anguish and distress caused by his disappearance. The Committee also found a violation of the victim's right to liberty and security, as he was arrested without a warrant, held incommunicado without access to defence and not informed of the grounds for his arrest or the charges against him for 11 years. The Committee further found that the victim's enforced disappearance in the absence of any inquiry deprived him of the protection of the law. It reiterated that intentionally removing a person from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time may constitute a refusal to recognise that person before the law if the victim was in the hands of State when last seen, and if the efforts of their relatives to obtain access to remedies have been systematically impeded.

Judgment Date

July 26, 2010

Country

Libya (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya)

Judicial Body

Human Rights Committee

Articles violated

Article 2(3) [ICCPR], Article 7 [ICCPR], Article 9 [ICCPR], Article 10(1) [ICCPR], Article 14(1) [ICCPR], Article 14(3)(a) [ICCPR], Article 14(3)b) [ICCPR], Article 14(3)(c) [ICCPR], Article 14(3)(d) [ICCPR], Article 16 [ICCPR]

Facts of the Case

Mr. Wanis Charef El Abani, a judge, was summoned for disciplinary reasons by the Minister of Justice in April 1990. He was arrested by members of the internal security services in the office of the Minister without a warrant and without information about the grounds for his arrest. Mr. El Abani was then held incommunicado and tortured for three months before being taken to a prison. All the steps that his family took to ascertain what had happened to him and where he was being held proved fruitless. Mr. El Abani was held in complete isolation in a special part of the prison for most of his detention, without any family visits or contact with a lawyer. In April 2001 he was notified about his charges. In December 2001 he was able for the first time to speak with his wife. Mr. El Abani was brought before a military court on in January 2002, and sentenced to 13 years in prison. After serving his sentence in 2003, he continued to be held in the same prison until January 2007, when his family learned that the internal security services had transferred him. In April 2007, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances sent an urgent appeal to the State. Mr. El Abani was released on in April 2008.

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