US urged to ensure rights of Libyan detainee

posted in: Africa

Tamara Al-Rifai, Advocacy and Communications director for the Middle East and North Africa, Human Rights Watch


Washington, DC, US – Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the US to ensure that a terrorism suspect apprehended in Libya last week is promptly charged before a judge and given access to a lawyer in accordance with international human rights law.

A US-led operation apprehended Abu Anas al-Libi in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, 5 Oct. 2013.

In 2000, the US named the Libyan and 20 others in an indictment for his alleged role in the August 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people and injured thousands more.

Five of the defendants are serving life sentences after conviction in US federal court; three more are facing trials.

The US Defence Department has said al-Libi is being detained under the laws of war in connection with other alleged Al-Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, and Kenya.

“Whatever the legal basis for al-Libi’s apprehension in Libya, the US needs to respect his rights so that he can be fairly tried in a civilian court,” said Laura Pitter, senior counter-terrorism researcher at the New York-based HRW. “That means ensuring he gets a lawyer during any questioning and that he is promptly brought before a judge and charged.”

On al-Libi’s apprehension in Libya, HRW said the US government should show that there is no functioning justice system in the country that would have allowed for al-Libi’s arrest and possible extradition in accordance with international due process requirements.