Libya: suspend death sentences of Qaddafi loyalists

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Libya Oct. 4 to suspend the death sentences of Ahmed Ibrahim and Walid Dabnoon, who were convicted of crimes related to the country’s uprising in June 2011. HRW contends that Ibrahim, a former official in the government of deposed president Muammar Qaddafi, and Dabnoon, a volunteer for pro-Qaddafi fighting forces during the clash with protesters, were denied the full benefits of due process during their trials, including the ability to consult counsel regularly and confidentially. According to HRW:

Lawyers and family members for Ibrahim and people knowledgeable about the proceedings against Dabnoon told Human Rights Watch that prison authorities allowed only some of the visits the lawyers requested and dismissed lawyers’ requests to meet with their clients privately. The sources said a guard was present during meetings at the detention site and in court, intimidating the defendants and making them reluctant to discuss the case freely with the lawyers. Lawyers were not present during prosecutors’ interrogations of the two men. During the court proceedings, the presiding judge rejected the defense lawyers’ requests to summon key witnesses for cross examination. The court relied on allegedly coerced confessions by co-defendants who incriminated Ibrahim and Dabnoon.

HRW, which is categorically opposed to capital punishment on human rights grounds, went further in their request, asking that Libya instate a moratorium on all capital punishment. They cited the widespread disarray of the Libyan judicial system and the large number of persons already on death row.

From Jurist, Oct. 4. Used with permission.