Posts Tagged ‘Libya’


Posted: December 12, 2017 in Libya
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Amnesty report alleges complicity by EU governments in torture

An Amnesty International report alleges that EU governments are knowingly complicit in the torture and abuse of refugees and asylum seekers in Libya.  The cause of the problem seems to be the payment of funds to authorities who are working with local militias and people smugglers.

The situation in Libya is chaotic as an Amnesty report describes.  There is widespread lawlessness and the country is deeply divided.  We may return to this story as it unfolds.  Amnesty say they have enough evidence to take governments to court.

Sources: Euronews; BBC; Guardian

Card signing this Saturday in the market.  Don’t forget to visit the refugee exhibition in the Library running during December.

The arms trade is deadly corrupt business.  It supports conflict and human rights abusing regimes while squandering vital resources.  It does this with the full support of governments around the world.’  Campaign Against the Arms Trade [see link at the bottom of the home page]

A fuss broke out today in the UK election campaign about who said what and who did what concerning the invasion of Libya.  The argument is that by attacking Libya and not sorting out a stable regime after the fall of Gadhafi, we laid the foundations for the thousands of refugees who attempt to reach Italy from its shores.

Not for the first time in this election, the arguments seems to swirl around everything other than the real one.  We have commented before in the role arms have to play in the Middle East and elsewhere.  Figures from Janes reveal that the trade is now worth $64bn up from $54bn in 2013.  Total Global military expenditure is said to worth around $1,776bn (SIPRI).

UPDATE: May 2015.  Transparency International has produced a new anti-corruption index for defence companies.  Local companies like Chemring and QinetiQ feature in it.

Articles about the defence industry tend to discuss sales of helicopters, aircraft, ships, tanks and the like – that is big items of military hardware.  While these weapons can be deadly, in fact most people suffer from the sale of small arms.  It is guns and grenades that are the biggest killers of ordinary people.

The plain fact is that the biggest sellers of arms are 1. USA, 2. Russian Federation; 3. France; 4. UK; 5. Germany (2014).  The first four are permanent members of the UN security council.  The arms trade supplies the arms which fuels the many wars and conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere.  When thousands are displaced from these wars and attempt to flee to somewhere where they can lead a peaceful life, we then refuse to deal with the problem.  There is a kind of disconnect between the causes of these conflicts and the inevitable results.  We get excited and argue over images of laden vessels in the Mediterranean, and we get upset when one capsizes and hundreds die, but we do not seem to get at all upset over the role of arms companies, dealers and brokers who provide the means for the conflict in the first place.


Update: See this Human Rights Watch blog:

A victory was achieved today in the long running battle by Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar to get justice and redress for being tortured in Libya.

Belhaj was a Libyan politician who was allegedly abducted and secretly flown to Libya where he was tortured by General Gaddafi’s security forces.  He has brought the case against the former foreign secretary, Jack Straw and Sir Mark Allen, the former head of counter terrorism at MI6.  After the collapse of the Gaddafi regime, papers were discovered in Libya which implicated the British security services in the torture of Belhaj and his wife.

In December 2013, the High Court struck out the civil lawsuit brought by the claimants, holding that since the claim called into question activities of a foreign state on its own territory the act of state doctrine precluded the court from hearing the case.  The Court rejected the UK Government’s argument that state immunity (a principle of international law by which a state is protected from being sued in the courts of other states) operated as a bar to the claim.

Judge Mr Justice Simon found “with hesitation” that the case could not go ahead and expressed his concern that “what appears to be a potentially well-founded claim that the UK authorities were directly implicated in the extraordinary rendition of the claimants, will not be determined in any domestic court; and that Parliamentary oversight and criminal investigations are not adequate substitutes for access to, and a decision by, the Court.”

In February 2014, the claimants were given permission to appeal the ruling on the act of state doctrine and the UK Government cross-appealed contesting that, in addition to the act of state doctrine, state immunity also precluded the claims from being heard.

On Monday 30 June, the NGOs Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, JUSTICE and REDRESS filed written interventions jointly in this case, which may set an important precedent for future claims brought by torture victims.

In the Court of Appeal’s decision it noted, among other things, the changed nature of public international law which has expanded to include the regulation of human rights …  It went on to observe that ‘unless the English Courts are able to exercise jurisdiction in this case, these very grave allegations against the executive will never be subjected to judicial investigation.’ 

Andrea Coomber of Justice said that the Government’s case would fundamentally undercut the international rule of law and undermine the global commitment to remedies for victims of human rights violations.

Part of the Government’s case was a fear of embarrassing the United States who had colluded with MI6 in the alleged abduction.

It is frequently stated that the British Government does not carry out torture and we have signed the relevant treaties to that effect.  Rendering people to countries to, in effect, subcontract this evil process is unacceptable.

The government is considering whether to appeal.


Brick Court Chambers,

The Guardian

Redress (see link at bottom of this blog)

Reprieve (ditto)

Amnesty International (ditto)