HRW Calls to Suspend Death Sentences

Human Rights Watch opposes capital punishment in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty and its irreversible and inhumane nature. But the Ibrahim and Dabnoon cases raise additional human rights and due process concerns, Human Rights Watch said.

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.

In Libya’s deteriorating security environment, there are numerous cases of militias harassing, intimidating, and threatening lawyers, judges, prosecutors, witnesses, and family members of defendants. Human Rights Watch is aware of alleged threats against at least one of the lawyers in the Ibrahim and Dabnoon case.

Throughout 2013, Human Rights Watch has documented such attacks by militias in Benghazi, Derna, Zawiyah, and Misrata. In June, a prominent judge was assassinated by unidentified assailants in Derna, in eastern Libya. In August, unidentified assailants assassinated Benghazi’s chief military prosecutor.

The weakness of the Judicial Police, the force responsible for security during trial proceedings and for operating detention facilities, is compounded by a lack of capacity and training. Authorities have struggled with limited success to gain control over all detention facilities, including those run by militias.

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