Major human rights groups Thursday appealed to Libya’s interim authorities to treat captured close associates or family members of Muammar Gadhafi humanely, and afford them fair trials. They also said the death of the former dictator does not diminish the need for accountability for crimes committed under his rule.
The chaotic television footage of the final moments of the life of Muammar Gadhafi only increased the level of concern among human rights advocates about due process in Libya.
Both Amnesty International-USA and Human Rights Watch issued statements appealing for the humane treatment of remaining members of the Gadhafi inner circle and family who may be taken into custody by Libyan security forces.
Human Rights Watch said the death of Gadhafi doesn’t lessen the need for Libyans to learn the truth about abuses committed during what were termed the “horrendous decades” of his rule.
But it said any prosecution of former regime officials must protect the due-process rights of the accused, and exclude the possibility of cruel and inhuman punishment, including the death penalty.
David Stamps, Libya Country Specialist for Amnesty International-USA, says Libya’s National Transitional Council, the NTC, needs to act quickly to create a credible judicial system.
“One of the issues that the new government is having, is going to have is I wouldn’t even say restoring, I’d say starting a new judiciary that would be fair and impartial. This is very important. And anybody, even though Gadhafi is dead, anybody else who is accused of a crime should be given a fair trial. This is very important. This will give great confidence to the citizens of Libya that they have a far and open system,” Stamps said.
Human Rights Watch called on the NTC to take immediate steps to stop revenge attacks including looting and property destruction in the former Gadhafi stronghold towns of Sirte and Bani Walid.
Stamps said any Libyans who engage in such activity should face justice along with Gadhafi henchmen.
“People who are doing this vigilante type activity should be held accountable for that. Because it’s very clear that you do not, and have not, the right to torture or kill people, other soldiers after they have surrendered. They’re protected and not only by international law but Libyan law as well. You don’t kill innocent people. You don’t kill unarmed people," he said.
Amnesty International said Libya’s new authorities need to make a “complete break” from the culture of abuse that marked the Gadhafi regime.
It called on the NTC to conduct a “full, independent and impartial” inquiry into the circumstances of the ousted dictator’s death and make the “full facts” available to the Libyan people.