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Lawyers call for absolute prohibition of torture in new constitution

The legal campaigning group Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) has called on the Constitution Drafting Assembly to make sure that torture and ill-treatment are absolutely prohibited in the new constitution.

It says both are inadeqately banned in the draft constitution unveiled last April and that the language used must be a lot tougher.

In a joint statement with the London-based human rights organisation Redress, LJL added that it was concerned that there could be amnesties for those involved in torture. That must not happen, it warned.  Enshrining the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment at the highest level of Libya’s domestic legal system would, it said, “demonstrate Libya’s commitment to upholding the prohibition, help draw attention to its importance and thereby contribute to eradicating torture and ill-treatment in the country”.

Theoretically, torture is already banned in Libyan law because Libya ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1989. In reality, however, as with so many other international conventions Libya signed up to, it is ignored.

The revolution did not do away with torture, beating and even killing, of prisoners. On the contrary, there have been accusations from international human rights organisations that the situation is even worse than under the Qaddafi regime.

LJL acknowledges the ingrained, longstanding view that, once arrested, prisoners have no rights.  Torture and ill-treatment, its says, “have been endemic in Libya for generations despite repeated attempts by successive governments to put an end to these practices and the impunity with which they are carried out”.

LFJ also wants the use of evidence obtained through torture to be explicitly banned in the constitution.

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