COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE
19 OF THE CONVENTION
Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Committee considered the additional report of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
(CAT/C/9/Add.12/Rev.1) at its 130th and 135th meetings, on 17 and
19 November 1992 (see CAT/C/SR.130, 135 and 135/Add.2).
report was introduced by the representative of the State party, who
highlighted the information contained in it with regard to the political
system, the legislative, the executive and the judicial authorities
of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, as well as the legal framework for
the implementation of the Convention. The representative also stressed
that the report dealt with other questions raised by the members of
the Committee during their consideration of the initial report.
members of the Committee wished to receive more information on the
way in which the Convention was implemented in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
It was asked, in this connection, whether the Convention had become
part of the country's legislation, whether the courts applied the
Convention directly and whether an individual could base his actions
on the principles embodied in the Convention. More information was
also requested on the structure and functioning of the judiciary.
It was asked, in particular, how judges were appointed, whether judges
could be dismissed, and if so, by which authority, whether there was
a disciplinary body to ensure that they carried out their duties properly,
whether the Supreme Court operated as a Constitutional Court and whether
it had the function of determining the legality of legislation and
the consistency of law with the Great Green Document on Human Rights
in the Age of the Masses. It was also asked whether there was any
organic link between the police officer or the department who arrested
an individual and the authority which instituted criminal proceedings
on the one hand, and the investigating authorities and the courts
which handed down sentences, on the other; whether the Attorney General
was responsible for investigations or whether it was the examining
magistrate or another body; who had the authority to consider questions
concerning detention by the police and whether Libyan law provided
that no case could be heard in the absence of a defence lawyer. In
addition, members of the Committee sought clarification about the
People's Court and its relationship with civil, criminal and other
courts, the role of the personal status courts which applied Islamic
law, and the legal effects of the individual amnesty. It was further
asked whether the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was prepared to accept the
optional provisions contained in articles 21 and 22 of the Convention.
184. In connection
with article 2 of the Convention, members of the Committee raised
several questions to clarify what rights a detained person had, especially
during the critical period immediately after he had been taken in
charge by the police. They wished to know, in particular, whether
a person could be held incommunicado, whether he was entitled to medical
examination, and when and how the accused was able to obtain the assistance
of a defence counsel. It was observed that the information provided
in the report with regard to police custody and interrogation of an
arrested person was somewhat confusing and required clarification.
It was asked, in this connection, how preventive detention was defined
in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, what the legal time-limits were and
when it was applied.
to article 3 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to
know whether the provisions of that article were being applied directly
in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, whether the non-extradition of any
person who would be in danger of torture was effectively guaranteed
under the law and, in this connection, what the difference was between
the acts of a freedom fighter and a terrorist act and what criteria
were used to decide to which category an act belonged.
regard to article 4 of the Convention, clarification was sought about
the types of penalties provided by the Libyan Penal Code for persons
guilty of torture and the sentences handed down by the criminal courts
in cases of acts of torture, particularly when those acts had resulted
in the death of the victim. Members of the Committee also asked for
clarification on the scope of the term "torture", as used
in article 435 of the Penal Code, on whether it covered both physical
and mental or moral suffering and on how mental torture was punished
under Libyan law. Furthermore, it was noted that, under article 167
of the Civil Code, a person would be held responsible for his unlawful
acts committed at a time when he was able to distinguish between right
and wrong and it was asked what criteria were applied in law to distinguish
between right and wrong.
article 8 of the Convention, it was asked whether, if the Libyan authorities
learned of the presence in the country's territory of a person who
was a national of a country with which the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
had no extradition treaty and who was accused of torture in a country
with which no extradition treaty existed either, jurisdiction existed
under domestic law so that the person concerned might be arrested
and brought to trial.
regard to article 9 of the Convention, it was asked what arrangements
had been made by the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in respect of mutual judicial
assistance and whether relevant treaties had been signed with other
States parties to the Convention.
to article 10 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to
know how special education in matters relating to torture for border
police, doctors and members of the health profession was provided
in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and whether the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights and the Convention were included in the training programmes.
190. It was
noted that the report contained no reference to article 11 of the
Convention and information was requested on the implementation of
its provisions. It was asked, in particular, whether prison inspections
by representatives of non-governmental organizations were permitted.
191. In connection
with article 12 of the Convention, reference was made to a particular
case included in the report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission
on Human Rights on questions relating to torture (E/CN.4/1992/17)
and since no reply on the case had been given by the Libyan authorities,
information was requested in that regard.
192. In respect
of article 13 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to
know who the parties were who could bring allegations of torture,
whether injured parties could request the Attorney General to initiate
criminal proceedings and, in case of refusal, whether there was any
alternative remedy. Statistics on the number of complaints actually
made were also requested.
193. As for
article 14 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to know
whether it was necessary to await a verdict before a claim for compensation
could be filed, whether the State assumed responsibility for compensation
in the case of a public official guilty of torture who was unable
to pay and what the competence was of administrative courts in matters
relating to compensation. It was also asked whether the Libyan Arab
Jamahiriya supported the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims
of Torture and intended to set up special medical centres to treat
victims of torture.
194. In connection
with article 16 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished
to know how the death sentence was imposed, whether executions were
public, whether there were statistics on how many persons had been
sentenced to death and how many sentences had been carried out. They
noted that economic crimes were punishable by death under the Libyan
Penal Code and they observed that such a penalty seemed to be out
of proportion to the nature of the crime.
195. In his
reply, the representative of the State party provided detailed information
on the structure and functioning of the judiciary in his country.
He stated, in particular, that the Libyan judicial system was based
on the principle of accusation and defence and that members of the
Department of Public Prosecutions were selected during the People's
Congress. Judges were appointed by the General People's Committee
and could be sanctioned or revoked for violation of the rules governing
their functions, or for incapacity in general, following an investigation
and on the decision of the Ministry of Justice. The Supreme Court
could hear motions for annulment or appeals against judgements handed
down in the civil, criminal or administrative courts. It also played
the role of a constitutional court and had the power to annul laws
if they were found to be unconstitutional. Furthermore, the representative
explained that preliminary investigations were carried out by a legally
qualified official of the Department of Public Prosecutions. The record
of the investigation was then transmitted to the Attorney General.
Bodies responsible for legal proceedings were independent of those
that handed down judgements. Under the law, any person who had been
charged could be assisted by a lawyer; the court itself designated
a lawyer where necessary. The representative also pointed out that
the People's Court was competent to hear appeals against measures
or decisions prejudicial to the freedom and basic rights of citizens
and its competence was quite different from that of the civil, criminal
and administrative courts. Islamic courts heard only cases connected
with civil status, marriage, divorce, the custody of children etc.
Amnesty, both general and individual, removed the criminal taint of
the offence committed and expunged the punishment. If a person had
committed a large number of offences, only those listed in the amnesty
order were pardoned. An individual amnesty was granted in respect
of either a specific crime or a particular person.
to article 2 of the Convention, the representative provided information
on the conditions of police custody and stated that police custody
could not exceed 24 hours from the time of arrest. In the case of
particularly serious crimes, the investigation was conducted in secret.
In such cases the accused was entitled to the services of a lawyer;
if he lacked the necessary measures, the State had to assign one to
him. The accused had the right to remain silent. If there was enough
proof against the accused, the Department of Public Prosecutions could
extend his detention up to six days for purposes of the investigation.
Any further extension had to be justified by that Department and decided
by the judge or the Indictment Division, as appropriate. The representative
stressed that, according to the Libyan Penal Code, preventive measures
could be imposed only within the limits specified by the law.
197. In connection
with article 3 of the Convention, the representative stated that under
the Libyan Penal Code the extradition of a person charged with a criminal
offence which was politically motivated was prohibited. Equally, a
political refugee or a person likely to be tortured could not be extradited.
In any case, the provisions of article 3 of the Convention were enforceable
in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
198. In respect
of article 4 of the Convention, the representative explained that
the period of imprisonment for a person found guilty of torture varied
from a minimum of three years up to a maximum of seven years. Hard
labour was a secondary punishment supplementing the main one. Even
though torture was punishable under Libyan law, the Penal Code did
not contain a definition of torture, nor specific provisions concerning
mental torture. As for the distinction between right and wrong, he
stated that it depended, as in any society, on the philosophy underlying
reference to articles 8 and 9 of the Convention, the representative
stated that if a foreigner engaged in acts of torture, he would be
tried in accordance with Libyan legislation and in the light of the
provisions of the Convention. The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had not concluded
any extradition agreement with other States concerning torture. Extradition
agreements concerning criminals had, however, been concluded in the
framework of the Arab League.
to articles 10 and 11 of the Convention, he stated that ways of instructing
police and medical personnel in human rights matters were under discussion
in his country and that the possibility of allowing external bodies
to visit Libyan prisons was still being studied.
201. In connection
with article 13 of the Convention, the representative explained that,
under Libyan criminal law, a complainant could request the Department
of Public Prosecutions to bring a public action on his behalf in certain
cases. However, with regard to crimes involving torture, article 435
of the Penal Code provided for a public action by that Department
and sanctions against a public official who ordered or committed torture,
regardless whether the victim had filed a complaint or not. Any alleged
victim of torture could submit a complaint directly to the Attorney
General, who was required by law to prosecute the accused. In addition,
the provisions of the Convention could be invoked before the courts.
to article 14 of the Convention, the representative explained that,
under Libyan law, requests for compensation for torture victims could
be handled by the criminal courts or could be the subject of an independent
action in a civil court. It was for the victim to choose the course
that was more favourable to him. If the person found guilty of torture
was a civil servant, damages were paid by the State. The representative
also stated that his country had contributed in the past to the United
Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture and that the Libyan
authorities would examine the desirability of establishing a special
centre for the rehabilitation of torture victims.
203. In connection
with article 16 of the Convention, the representative indicated that
capital punishment was carried out in the prison itself or in other
closed premises. Four murderers had recently been sentenced to death.
The general tendency was to restrict the application of capital punishment
to a limited number of crimes. Economic crimes punishable by death
were defined in article 4 of the Law on Economic Crimes and included
deliberate sabotage of installations, such as those for petroleum
production, which were vital for the national economy. Executions
were not carried out in public, but television programmes were referring
to them when they dealt with problems connected with criminality.
The list of the death sentences that had been handed down would be
transmitted to the Committee at a later stage.
Conclusions and recommendations
Committee expressed its thanks to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and its
representative for having provided, in the additional report and during
the presentation of that document, replies to the questions raised
by the Committee during its consideration, in November 1991, of the
initial report. The replies provided enabled the Committee to evaluate
the efforts made by the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to implement the Convention;
the Committee considered that the Libyan legal system was in conformity
with the Convention.
Committee also stated that it was awaiting with impatience the second
periodic report of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, due in June 1994, and
that it would be grateful if that report would describe the application
of the Convention article by article.
Committee's attention had been drawn to a few cases of torture in
the country in connection with which the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had
taken legal action. The Committee noted the action taken and urged
the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to continue to take the necessary measures
to eliminate and prevent torture.
Committee requested information on the number of cases of torture
in which proceedings had been instituted and on the results of those
proceedings. It appreciated the way in which the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,
through its representative, had made sincere efforts to reply to its