El Hassy v. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Duty to Prosecute | Burden of Proof | Deprivation of Liberty | Evidence | Refusal to Disclose Fate | Relatives as Victims | Right to Know the Truth | Effective Remedy | Duty to Investigate

Themes: Related Crimes

Recognising the suffering involved in being held indefinitely without contact with the outside world and reaffirming that the burden of proof cannot rest on the applicant alone, the Committee made a finding of inhuman treatment with respect to the victim due to his repeated incommunicado detention and to his enforced disappearance, and with respect to his brother due to the anguish and stress caused by such disappearance. It also found that the victim's treatment in prison amounted to torture. The Committee also found a violation of the right to liberty and security in light of the fact that the victim was arrested on several occasions by agents of the State without a warrant, he was held incommunicado without being informed of the reasons for his arrests or the charges against him, he was never brought before a judge and he could never challenge the legality of his detention.

Judgment Date

October 24, 2007

Country

Libya (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya)

Judicial Body

Human Rights Committee

Articles violated

Article 2(3) [ICCPR], Article 7 [ICCPR], Article 9 [ICCPR], Article 10 [ICCPR]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 6 [ICCPR]

Facts of the Case

Between 1993 and 1995, Mr. Abu Bakar El Hassy was forbidden from leaving his hometown by the Libyan internal security police and had to report regularly to their offices. On some occasions, he was forced to stay days at the office to answer questions, but no official charges were brought against him. On two occasions, he was taken to Tripoli, held in detention for months without charge, then released and returned home. After his release, he had to report to the police every day. In March 1995, a police unit came to his house to arrest him, placing a bag over his head. Mr. El Hassy's brother was also arrested while attending a lecture at the university. Mr. El Hassy was taken to a prison in Tripoli, constantly interrogated and systematically beaten by prison officers. In May 1995, he was released and returned home, but was kept under surveillance and obliged to report every day to the internal security police. In August 1995, he was detained again and taken to the same prison, where he was placed in the “Central Unit” for political dissidents for about ten days and then transferred to the “Military Unit”, reserved for members of the army serving prison sentences. On one occasion, Mr. El Hassy was brought by mistake to his brother’s cell and the latter was able to confirm his extremely poor physical condition. In May 1996, Mr. El Hassy was transferred back to the Central Unit. In June 1996, special military forces stormed the prison to curb a riot, killing large numbers of detainees. Mr. El Hassy's brother has not heard of or seen him since these events. The authorities have not given the family any information on the fate or whereabouts of Mr. El Hassy, and they did not confirm his death or return his body for burial. All attempts by the family to inquire about his fate have been unsuccessful.

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