News / Africa

Rights Researcher Calls for Expanded Libyan Prisoner Compensation

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  • Heba Morayef, A researcher with Human Rights Watch (HRW) spoke with Clottey

Peter Clottey

A researcher with Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Libyan authorities to extend its compensation promise to those who have been arbitrarily detained or have their rights violated under international law.

HRW researcher for Libya and Egypt Heba Morayef welcomed as a positive step by the Libyan Justice Ministry which promised compensation to people who have been wrongfully imprisoned.

“There is very little possibility that people, who have been arbitrarily detained for a year or two, would be able to actually file a complaint to get justice through the criminal justice system in terms of having officers prosecuted for the arbitrary detentions. So, the compensation is really, I think, the closest they are going to get to some form of reparations for the violations they’ve experienced,” she said.

Local media quoted the government as promising to pay compensation to some people who have been wrongfully imprisoned. According to the Justice Ministry, those expected to benefit from the promised compensation include people detained without trial, as well as those previously convicted, but were later acquitted.

Heba Morayef, a researcher with Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Heba Morayef, a researcher with Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Justice Minister Mustafa Muhammad Abd-al-Jalil has reportedly taken a strong stance against arbitrary arrests and prolonged detention without trial.

Human Rights Watch, along with other rights organizations, has criticized Libya’s poor human rights record and questioned the independence of the country’s judiciary.

Researcher Morayef urged Libya to fully implement the promised compensation after hailing the “positive stance” taken by Justice Minister Abd-al-Jalil.

“The Minister of Justice has taken a very good stance on this group of prisoners. He’s publicly criticized the security agencies for continuing to detain prisoners, despite the fact that they have been acquitted by the courts. And, the problem really is that the Internal Security Agency and the Ministry of Interior have been ignoring court orders,” Morayef said.

Recently, a rights group condemned the reported execution of 18 foreigners after expressing fear that the accused did not have fair trials.

Local media reported that the 18 accused were convicted of murder and executed by firing squad.

The Cerene newspaper reports that over 200 people are currently on death row in Libya.

Analysts say Libya’s promised compensation could be seen as the government’s effort to make amends following frequent international criticisms over its checkered human rights record.

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