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Committee against Torture, Consideration of reports submitted by States Parties under 19 of the Convention, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, U.N. Doc. A/48/44 at 32 (1993).


181. The 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).

182. The 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.

183. Generally, 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.

185. Turning 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.

186. With 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.

187. Concerning 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.

188. With 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.

189. Referring 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.

196. Referring 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 legislation.

199. With 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.

200. Referring 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.

202. Referring 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

204. The 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.

205. The 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.

206. The 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.

207. The 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 questions.


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