Death Penalty Database

Libya

Information current as of: April 11, 2011

General

Official Country Name

Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (Libya). [1]

Geographical Region

Africa (Northern Africa). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Retentionist. [3]

Methods of Execution

Shooting.
Death sentences are to be executed by shooting the offender to death; [4] a variety of other methods are prohibited as “repugnant.” [5] In practice, execution by firing squad is the method of execution. [6]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Libya, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5425.htm, Nov. 17, 2010.
[2] U.N., World Macro Regions and Components, U.N. Doc. ST/ESA/STAT/SER.R/29, 2000.
[3] Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010; Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010.
[4] Libya Penal Code, art. 19, Law No. __ of 1953, translation posted by: United Nations, 2007.
[5] Libya Great Green Charter of Human Rights in the Jamahiriyan Era, art. 8, Jun. 12, 1988; translated by: International Labour Organization, 2004.
[6] Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010; Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010.

Country Details

Language(s)

Arabic. [1]

Population

6,461,454. (July 2010). [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

506. Amnesty International reported that by May 2009 there were 506 individuals under sentence of death, with 186 of those sentences confirmed on appeal by the High Court and the remainder pending. [3] A June 2010 news report cites Cerene, a newspaper associated with Qaddafi’s son, as reporting that over 200 people are under sentence of death. [4]

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2017 to date (last updated on December 6, 2017)

0. [5]

Executions in 2016

0. [6]

Per capita execution rate in 2016

Executions in 2015

0. [7]

Per capita execution rate in 2015

0 executions.

Executions in 2014

0. [8]

Per capita execution rate in 2014

0 executions

Executions in 2013

0. [9]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

0 executions

Executions in 2012

0. [10]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

0 executions

Executions in 2011

0. [11]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

0 executions

Executions in 2010

18. [12]

Executions in 2009

13. Amnesty International reported four executions: [13] three Egyptians and one Nigerian. [14] Niger’s Collective of Organizations for Human Rights and Democracy (CODDHD) reported that 9 Nigeriens were executed in Libya in 2009. [15] This means that there may have been at least 13 executions (Nigerien=from Niger, Nigerian=from Nigeria).

Executions in 2008

8. [16]

Executions in 2007

9. [17]

Year of Last Known Execution

2010. [18] We do not have reports of judicial executions in Libya in 2011.

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Libya, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5425.htm, Nov. 17, 2010; Constitutional Proclamation of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, art. 2, Dec. 11, 1969, translated by: International Constitutional Law, 1992.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Libya, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5425.htm, Nov. 17, 2010.
[3] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 56, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[4] Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010; Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010.
[5] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[6] Amnesty International, Death sentences and executions in 2016, ACT 50/5740/2017, Apr. 11, 2017.
[7] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and 9. Executions in 2010 in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[14] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 123 fn. 103, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[15] Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 8, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[18] Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010; Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Aggravated Murder.
Under the pre-revolutionary Penal Code, murder aggravated by planning, ambush or poisoning, or in the furtherance of a felony, was punishable by death. Intentional murder of a foreign head of state is punishable by death. [1] That Code has been amended (in particular by the hudud and qisas laws). [2]

Murder.
Under the pre-revolutionary Penal Code, only aggravated murder was punishable by death. However, that Code has been amended by Law No. 6 of 1973, and intentional killing is punishable by death [3] under that Maliki-influenced amendments. [4]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
Under the hudud laws, hirabah (dacoity) with homicide is punishable by death. It is defined in Libya’s Law on Offenses Against Property of 1972 as “possession of another’s property by violence or force exercised by using arms.” [5] While our sources do not specify, it is possible that the penalty applies to any offender who participates in a robbery resulting in death. [6]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Attacks aimed at harming the public safety (even if state security is not a target), when resulting in death, carry the death penalty. Intentional poisoning of water or food, or spread of disease, resulting in multiple deaths, carries the death penalty. Some violent offenses affecting state security and punishable by death could be characterized as terrorism resulting in death. [7]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Acts aimed at “vandalizing, looting or killing people” are punishable by death, as are other violent offenses and membership in organizations formed to commit such offenses. Notably, terrorism-related offenses not resulting in death may be death eligible mainly when they are aimed at the security of the state. [8]

Drug Trafficking Not Resulting in Death.
Amnesty International reports that “courts continue to hand down death sentences, mostly for murder and drug-related offenses.” [9] Drug trafficking is punishable by death or life imprisonment, and a fine. [10]

Treason.
Treason is a broad category in Libya. Under Article 3 of Law No. 71 of 1972 on the Criminalization of Parties, political opposition may be punishable by death. Although courts rarely pronounce a death sentence for political opposition, in 2008 there were reports of a death sentence pronounced in absentia on an individual who had attempted to create a human rights organization in Libya. [11] Articles 206 and 207 of the Penal Code permit capital punishment for forming or promoting illegal organizations or opposition to the state, including support of theories that delegitimize the state. [12] Other offenses against the state are death-eligible, including armed resistance to the state, instigating war against Libya, committing acts against Libya in the employ of a foreign interest, assisting the enemy, undermining the defense, undermining the Constitution, using explosives in an assassination attempt, waging civil war and attacks against the government. [13]

Espionage.
Espionage during time of war carries the death penalty. [14]

Military Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Abuse of power in opposition to the state and crimes such as vandalism and looting are punishable by death. [15] A number of other military offenses are punishable by death, including: Assisting the enemy, undermining the defense or the territorial integrity of the state, returning to combat against Libya (in cases of released prisoners of war), mistreating the wounded, insurrection in face of the enemy, desertion to a hostile, cowardice, dereliction of duty in face of the enemy and military crimes violating humanitarian law. [16]

Comments.
After Libya’s 1969 revolution, the new regime enacted legislation enforcing various hudud and retributive penalties. In terms of the death penalty, this means that legislation altered somewhat the definition of homicide offenses. The legislation instituted the death penalty for hirabah (a type of armed robbery) resulting in death. In this aspect, the new law might be considered fairly similar to the 1953 law authorizing the death penalty for homicide in the course of a felony. The more important alteration (as regards the death penalty) was that all intentional homicide became punishable by qisas (a private right to have the offender executed) unless the victim’s family accepted a payment of diya (blood money compensation). [17] Previously, the death penalty applied only for aggravated murders. [18]

The new legislation also introduced Islamic offenses and punishments for other acts, such as zina, but in a modified way. Libyan law does not authorize the death penalty for consensual sex offenses or for illicit sex such as rape, and the law of zina does not apply to homosexual conduct. Experts hazard guesses as to why this is so; perhaps one convincing explanation is that Libyan law was influenced by a modern movement to return to the Quran as a source of law, and the Quran does not describe the most severe punishments for offenses other than hirabah or murder. [19] It is also true that the new laws do not retain the traditional hudud evidentiary requirements, [20] which could also explain why the hudud penalties do not apply.

Where not amended, the 1953 Code still applies. [21] By 2010, it appeared that the 2003 draft Penal Code had not been adopted. [22]

We would like to have provided a fuller description of Libya’s law based on translations of Libyan laws, but the government website that is supposed to provide information on Libyan law was not available as of March 2011.

On occasion, organizations such as Amnesty International suggest that individuals are executed for offenses we have not listed, such as theft. [23] To our knowledge, the death penalty does not apply for theft [24] but does for armed robbery with homicide. [25]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

Yes. In Libya, offenders who are convicted of intentional homicides will be executed if the victim’s family does not pardon them. [26] Hood & Hoyle do not list Libya as having the mandatory death penalty, but we believe it does. [27] Law permits a Supreme Judicial Council to reduce a death sentence or grant amnesty; however, this function is vested outside of the ordinary judicial process. This Council exercises no meaningful review in the absence of a pardon from the family (which is required for discretion in cases involving retributive punishments). [28] When the “rights of individuals” (such as qisas and diya) are involved, the death penalty is mandatory in practice. [29] In cases not involving retributive rights, courts might award reduced sentences in the presence of mitigating circumstances. [30]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

Aggravated Murder.
Because the decision to permit discretion in sentencing in the case of murder may be vested in the family of a victim rather than in a court, [31] the death penalty for murder can be considered mandatory.

Murder.
Intentional killing is penalized by death as qisas if the victim’s family does not pardon the offender (usually in exchange for a payment of diya). [32]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
Homicide during robbery is punishable under a law intended to enact hudud penalties. [33] We do not know whether discretion is prohibited for this offense.

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

Aggravated Murder.
In January-February 2008, 3 Ghanaians were executed for a drug-related murder. [34]

Murder.
Reports indicate that in June 2010 Libya executed 18 individuals (10 Nigerian, 8 others including Chadians and Egyptians) for murder. [35] In January-February 2008, reports indicate that 3 Ghanaians, 1 Libyan, 1 Senegalese, and 1 Egyptian were executed. Several were executed for a drug-related murder. [36] In July 2009, 1 Egyptian was executed for murder. [37]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
Libya’s domestic law prohibits the practice of executing individuals for crimes committed while under the age of 18. [38] Amendments to Libya’s Penal Code have been consistent in this regard. [39] Libya has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, [40] the Convention on the Rights of the Child, [41] and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, [42] which prohibit such executions; Libya has also ratified the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which prohibits the execution of individuals for crimes committed while under the age of 18 unless domestic law specifically allows such punishment; [43] Libya’s does not.

Pregnant Women.
Amnesty International reports that under Article 436 of the Criminal Procedure Code, women cannot be executed until 2 months after giving birth. [44] Libya has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, [45] the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, [46] and the Arab Charter on Human Rights, [47] which prohibit the execution of expectant mothers.

Women With Small Children.
Libya has ratified the Arab Charter on Human Rights [48] and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, [49] which prohibit the execution of nursing mothers—but the exception provided for by domestic law may be more limited. [50]

Intellectually Disabled.
A lack of capacity or volition is grounds for precluding criminal liability, and partial incapacity can lead to a reduced penalty. [51] We do not know how or whether this law is applied.

Mentally Ill.
A lack of capacity or volition is grounds for precluding criminal liability, and partial incapacity can lead to a reduced penalty. [52] We do not know how this law is applied or whether an exclusion exists, or whether individuals who become insane after conviction can be executed.

References

[1] Libya Penal Code, arts. 368-372, 218, Law No. __ of 1953, translation posted by: United Nations, 2007.
[2] Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, p. 381, 386, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996. Mahmood’s 1996 book reproduces an article he wrote in 1973, when legislation on homicide was pending. The legislation was adopted (See Emory’s possibly old listing of Libyan laws at http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/legal/libya.htm); we do not know whether the legislation added to or abrogated the 1953 Code.
[3] Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, p. 386, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996; Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 67, http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/12/12/truth-and-justice-can-t-wait-0 (HRW Doc. 1-56432-563-6), Dec. 2009. The current law enables the death penalty for intentional killing. U.S. Library of Congress, News & Events, Libya: New Penal Code Opposed, http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l20540556_text, Jun. 2, 2008.
[4] Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, p. 380, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996. For the Maliki school, deliberate homicide was causing death by an intentional act or omission that was intended to kill or cause harm or likely to kill. Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 75, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[5] Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, p. 382, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996.
[6] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 77, 79, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996 (This is because Libya’s hudud laws were influenced by Maliki jurisdictions, see Mahmood at 280).
[7] Libya Penal Code, arts. 197, 202, 296, 305, 306, Law No. __ of 1953, translation posted by: United Nations, 2007.
[8] Libya Penal Code, arts. 202, 197, 211, Law No. __ of 1953, translation posted by: United Nations, 2007.
[9] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 55, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[10] Libya Law No. 7 of 1990, art. 34.
[11] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 55, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[12] Libya Penal Code, arts. 206-207, Law No. __ of 1953, translation posted by: United Nations, 2007. These penal provisions enhance the penalty for and broaden the scope of 206 and 207 beyond the much narrower offenses of “terrorist associations” and “revolutionary movements” in the un-amended 1953 penal code, which did not carry the death penalty.
[13] Libya Penal Code, arts. 165, 166, 168, 169, 170, 179, 181, 182, 196, 197, 201, 203, 204, 211, Law No. __ of 1953, translation posted by: United Nations, 2007.
[14] Libya Penal Code, art. 171, 182, Law No. __ of 1953.
[15] Libya Penal Code, arts. 199, 200, 201, 202, 211, Law No. __ of 1953, translation posted by: United Nations, 2007.
[16] Libya Military Penal Code, arts. 42, 43, 44, 45, 54, 55, 56, 64, 67, 87, 88, 94, 104, 109, http://www.aladel.gov.ly/main/modules/sections/item.php?itemid=143, last accessed Sep. 15, 2010.
[17] Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, p. 382, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996; Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 67, http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/12/12/truth-and-justice-can-t-wait-0 (HRW Doc. 1-56432-563-6), Dec. 2009. The current law enables the death penalty for intentional killing. U.S. Library of Congress, News & Events, Libya: New Penal Code Opposed, http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l20540556_text, Jun. 2, 2008.
[18] Libya Penal Code, arts. 368-372, 218, Law No. __ of 1953, translation posted by: United Nations, 2007.
[19] Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, p. 385, 389-408, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996.
[20] Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, p. 403-404, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996.
[21] Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, p. 381, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996.
[22] Alison Pargeter, Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa 2010: Libya, Freedom House, http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=384&key=259&parent=24&report=86, 2010.
[23] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 58, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[24] Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, p. 382, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996.
[25] Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, p. 383, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996.
[26] Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 67-68, 1-56432-563-6, Dec. 2009.
[27] Roger Hood & Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, p. 279, Oxford University Press, 4th ed., 2008.
[28] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 60, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[29] Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 67-68, 1-56432-563-6, Dec. 2009.
[30] Libya Penal Code, art. 29, Law No. __ of 1953, translation posted by: United Nations, 2007.
[31] Libya Penal Code, arts. 14, 368-372, 218, Law No. __ of 1953, translation posted by: United Nations, 2007; Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 60, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[32] Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, p. 386, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996; Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 67, http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/12/12/truth-and-justice-can-t-wait-0 (HRW Doc. 1-56432-563-6), Dec. 2009. The current law enables the death penalty for intentional killing. U.S. Library of Congress, News & Events, Libya: New Penal Code Opposed, http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l20540556_text, Jun. 2, 2008.
[33] Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, p. 382, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996.
[34] Paul Arhewe, Nigeria: Apathy to Citizens’ Execution in Libya, Daily Independent of Lagos, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006071092.html, Jun. 6, 2010; Ghana Web, Minister Confirms Execution of 4 Ghanaians in Libya, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=139657, Feb. 22, 2008.
[35] Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010; Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010.
[36] Paul Arhewe, Nigeria: Apathy to Citizens’ Execution in Libya, Daily Independent of Lagos, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006071092.html, Jun. 6, 2010; Ghana Web, Minister Confirms Execution of 4 Ghanaians in Libya, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=139657, Feb. 22, 2008.
[37] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 59, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[38] Libya Penal Code, art. 81, Law No. __ of 1953.
[39] Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, p. 383, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996.
[40] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Sep. 14, 2010.
[41] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, CRC, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, Nov. 20, 1989, last accessed Sep. 14, 2010.
[42] List of Countries which have Signed, Ratified, or Acceded to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, African Union, http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/List/African%20Charter%20on%20the%20Rights%20and%20Welfare%20of%20the%20Child.pdf, Jan. 3, 2010.
[43] Marvat Rishmawi, The Arab Charter on Human Rights and the League of Arab States: An Update, 10 Human Rights Law Review 169, p. 171-172, http://hrlr.oxfordjournals.org/content/10/1/169.full, 2010.
[44] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 58, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[45] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Sep. 14, 2010.
[46] List of Countries which have Signed, Ratified, or Acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, African Union, http://www.africa-union.org/root/AU/Documents/Treaties/List/Protocol%20on%20the%20Rights%20of%20Women.pdf, Jul. 22, 2010.
[47] Marvat Rishmawi, The Arab Charter on Human Rights and the League of Arab States: An Update, 10 Human Rights Law Review 169, p. 172, http://hrlr.oxfordjournals.org/content/10/1/169.full, 2010.
[48] Marvat Rishmawi, The Arab Charter on Human Rights and the League of Arab States: An Update, 10 Human Rights Law Review 169, p. 172, http://hrlr.oxfordjournals.org/content/10/1/169.full, 2010.
[49] List of Countries which have Signed, Ratified, or Acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, African Union, http://www.africa-union.org/root/AU/Documents/Treaties/List/Protocol%20on%20the%20Rights%20of%20Women.pdf, Jul. 22, 2010.
[50] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 58, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[51] Libya Penal Code, art. 78, 83, 84, Law No. __ of 1953.
[52] Libya Penal Code, art. 78, 83,84, Law No. __ of 1953.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

May 15, 1970 [2]

Signed?

No. [3]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

Yes. [4]

Date of Accession

May 16, 1989. [5]

Signed?

No. [6]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [7]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [8]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Yes. [9]

Date of Accession

Jul. 19, 1986. [10]

Signed?

Yes. [11]

Date of Signature

May 30, 1985. [12]

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Yes. [13]

Date of Accession

May 23, 2004. [14]

Signed?

Yes. [15]

Date of Signature

Nov. 5, 2003. [16]

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Yes. [17]

Date of Accession

Sep. 23, 2000. [18]

Signed?

Yes. [19]

Date of Signature

Jun. 9, 1998. [20]

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Yes. [21]

Date of Accession

August 7, 2006. [22]

Signed?

Yes. [23]

Date of Signature

February 14, 2005. [24]

2016 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [25]

Vote

Against. [26]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [27]

2014 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [28]

Vote

Against. [29]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [30]

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [31]

Vote

Against. [32]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [33]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [34]

Vote

Against. [35]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [36]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [37]

Vote

Against. [38]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [39]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [40]

Vote

Against. [41]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [42]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Sep. 14, 2010.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Sep. 14, 2010.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Sep. 14, 2010.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Sep. 14, 2010.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Sep. 14, 2010.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Sep. 14, 2010.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Sep. 14, 2010.
[8] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Sep. 14, 2010.
[9] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[10] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[11] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[12] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[13] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[14] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[15] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[16] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[17] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[18] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[19] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[20] African Union, List of Countries Which Have Signed, Ratified/Acceded to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/Welfare%20of%20the%20Child_0.pdf, Jul. 13, 2012.
[21] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[22] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[23] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[24] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[25] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[26] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[27] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Note Verbale dated 7 September 2017, U.N. Doc. A/71/1047, Sep. 13, 2017.
[28] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 141, 144, U.N. Doc. A/69/488/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2014.
[29] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, 73rd Plenary Meeting, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/69/PV.73, Dec. 18, 2014.
[30] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Note Verbale dated 28 July 2015, U.N. Doc. A/69/993, Jul. 29, 2015.
[31] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[32] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[33] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[34] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[35] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[36] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[37] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[38] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[39] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[40] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, pp. 3-4, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[41] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[42] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

Libya has no formally adopted Constitution; instead, an edict issued by the military forms Libya’s basic law, which has been amended by an authoritarian regime. [1] Still, several documents should be considered important in determining Libya’s Constitution. The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, issued by military edict in 1969, forms the basic law. This document discusses some fundamental rights , but does not discuss capital punishment or the right to life. In 1977, Libya enacted the Declaration on the Establishment of the Authority of the People; this document adopts the Quran as the Constitution of Libya. Libya has also adopted human rights documents and laws that could, in the light of the ambiguity surrounding Libya’s Constitution, be considered to have constitutional significance. The Great Green Charter of Human Rights in the Jamahiriyan Era describes the right to life as sacred and inalienable, prohibits torture, restricts the death penalty, contemplates the abolition or effective elimination of executions and recognizes the right to request judicial reduction in sentencing. [2] Law No. 20 of 1991 restates those protections but excludes mention of abolition. [3] Together, the aforementioned could be construed as Libya’s body of constitutional law. In favor of this construction, Libya’s 1991 law on human rights generally recognizes some of these documents as foundational. [4] But as the events of spring 2011 once again made clear, it is doubtful whether Libya’s government respects constitutional principles protecting human rights.

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

Libya’s Law No. 20 of 1991 recognizes international charters on fundamental rights and freedoms, along with its own human rights charter and foundational law, as a definitional source of human rights. [5] But as the events of spring 2011 once again made clear, it is doubtful whether Libya’s government respects human rights charters.

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

Yes. Typically, Amnesty International reports fewer than 10 executions in any given year, and Libyan prison officials estimate that 7 or 8 executions occur in an average year. [6] In 2010, Libyan officials carried out 18 executions in a single day; [7] this represents a somewhat significant change.

Notably, all or most of those 18 executions were of foreign nationals. This reflects a trend in which most executions in Libya are carried out against migrant workers who lack the financial resources or cultural awareness to obtain a pardon by paying compensation to a victim’s family. It also reflects the fact that migrants face unfair trial trials conducted in a language which they frequently cannot understand, sometimes after allegedly being tortured into giving a confession. [8]

While Libya continues to apply the death penalty with limited regard to the most basic safeguards (especially regarding foreigners), [9] it is also true that Libya is in the process of redrafting its penal code; Human Rights Watch reports that Libya is reducing the number of capital offenses, [10] while HRW [11] and Amnesty International point out that Libya is retaining the death penalty for a broad range of crimes, including political dissidence. [12] According to Amnesty, one source stated that the death penalty would be limited to death-eligible offenses under Shari’a law. [13] Under Libya’s approach to Shari’a law, this means intentional homicide and armed robbery resulting in death, [14] but the draft Code accessible to Amnesty retained the death penalty for a broad range of offenses [15] that are not death-eligible under Shari’a law. It seems that the draft available to HRW did further limit the death penalty to crimes involving violence or weapons. [16]

Recently, Libya has ratified the Arab Charter on Human Rights, [17] a document which, as it is written, is similar to the ICCPR in its approach to the death penalty and safeguards.

In 2009, Libya issued several amnesties, commuting sentences or pardoning an undetermined number of persons held under sentence of death, possibly for crimes such as drug trafficking. [18]

(By April 2011, it was unclear what the emerging situation in Libya might be.)

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

No. In late May or early June 2010, Libya executed 18 people in a single day. [19]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

We were unable to find any published cases from national courts.

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

The government maintains a website where laws and some extrajudicial decisions are posted; it is unclear whether this resource could eventually include published opinions of courts: http://www.aladel.gov.ly/main/. We did not find any online or other resource from which to access or request judicial decisions. (By April 2011 that website was inaccessible.)

What is the clemency process?

The old penal code (1954) states that special pardon may be granted. [20] Various reports indicate that after a capital sentence becomes final, a supreme judicial council reviews a sentence and may issue a pardon or commutation. Additionally, a supreme judicial council issues general amnesties. These pardons or commutations are not available for the majority of individuals who are executed, who (because they were convicted of murder) face death sentences that can only be commuted upon the pardon of the victim’s family, which is usually or always preconditioned on a payment of blood money compensation. In politically or internationally sensitive cases, the government and other organizations have intervened to procure pardons; however, in many cases there is simply no access to any pardon absent financial resources. [21]

Bureaucratic errors have led to the execution of at least one individual who had been pardoned by the victim’s family. [22]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

No. Trials for serious criminal cases are before a three-judge panel in the Court of First Instance. [23] Some crimes are tried before the State Security Court. [24]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

Although shari’a courts can adjudicate, their jurisdiction seems to be limited to family law. Judgments are appealed from a Court of First Instance to three-judge panels on a Court of Appeal; from there, defendants may appeal to the five-judge panel of the Supreme Court, which has a separate division for criminal matters. A State Security Court hears cases related to the death penalty for independent political activity and other offenses; we do not know whether the decisions of this court are appealed to the Supreme Court. [25]

Libya’s Higher Judicial Council reviews Supreme Court decisions, particularly in capital cases. Despite the Council’s apparent designation as a court, it is considered an extrajudicial body—it exercises a power of amnesty, not judicial review. [26]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Libya, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5425.htm, Nov. 17, 2010.
[2] Libya Great Green Charter of Human Rights in the Jamahiriyan Era, arts. 2, 8, Jun. 12, 1988, translated by: translated by: International Labour Organization, 2004.
[3] Libya Law on Promoting Freedoms, art. 4, No. 20 of 1991, translated by: International Labour Organization, 2004.
[4] Libya Law on Promoting Freedoms, Preamble, No. 20 of 1991, translated by: International Labour Organization, 2004.
[5] Libya Law on Promoting Freedoms, Preamble, No. 20 of 1991, translated by: International Labour Organization, 2004.
[6] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 8, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008; Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 56, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[7] Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010; Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010.
[8] Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010; Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010; Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 61 et seq., MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009. Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 67-68, 1-56432-563-6, Dec. 2009.
[9] Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010.
[10] Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 68-69, 1-56432-563-6, Dec. 2009.
[11] Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 68-69, 1-56432-563-6, Dec. 2009.
[12] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 57-58, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[13] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 57, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[14] Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, p. 382, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996; Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 67, http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/12/12/truth-and-justice-can-t-wait-0 (HRW Doc. 1-56432-563-6), Dec. 2009; U.S. Library of Congress, News & Events, Libya: New Penal Code Opposed, http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l20540556_text, Jun. 2, 2008.
[15] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 57-58, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[16] Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 68-69, 1-56432-563-6, Dec. 2009.
[17] Marvat Rishmawi, The Arab Charter on Human Rights and the League of Arab States: An Update, 10 Human Rights Law Review 169, generally, http://hrlr.oxfordjournals.org/content/10/1/169.full, 2010.
[18] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 56-57, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[19] Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010; Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010.
[20] Libya Penal Code, art. 124-125, Law No. __ of 1953.
[21] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Libya, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136074.htm, Mar. 11, 2010; Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 56-57, 60, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009. Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 15, 67-68, http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/12/12/truth-and-justice-can-t-wait-0, (HRW Document 1-56432-563-6), Dec. 2009. Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010.
[22] Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 67, http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/12/12/truth-and-justice-can-t-wait-0, (HRW Document 1-56432-563-6), Dec. 2009.
[23] John L.S. Simpkins, Libya’s Legal System and Legal Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Libya.htm, Jan. 2008.
[24] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Libya, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136074.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[25] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Libya, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136074.htm, Mar. 11, 2010; John L.S. Simpkins, Libya’s Legal System and Legal Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Libya.htm, Jan. 2008.
[26] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Libya, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136074.htm, Mar. 11, 2010; John L.S. Simpkins, Libya’s Legal System and Legal Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Libya.htm, Jan. 2008; Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 56-57, 60, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

In May 2009, Amnesty International reported that approximately 306 out of 506 individuals under initial or final sentence of death were held at Jdeida Prison in Tripoli; women were held under sentence of death in the women’s division of that prison. [1] News reports imply that prisoners are also held under sentence of death in a prison in Benghazi; [2] Abu Salim, where some state security prisoners are held, [3] plausibly houses some other death-sentenced prisoners, but we are not certain where they are held. Cerene, a newspaper affiliated with Qaddafi’s son, reported that the executions in 2010 occurred in Tripoli and Benghazi, [4] so it may be likely that some of the unaccounted for death-sentenced prisoners are held in Benghazi.

Description of Prison Conditions

In 1996, Libyan security forces reportedly carried out the extrajudicial execution of more than a thousand prisoners in Abu Salim Prison who had rioted due to extremely harsh conditions (and possibly their arbitrary detentions). [5]

According to the U.S. Department of State, observers report that prison conditions range from poor to adequate, although prison officials did not allow international human rights monitors such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch full access to facilities. [6] Amnesty International reported that at Jdeida Prison, where most death row inmates appear to be held, maintained a clinic, a library, and separate facilities for men and women. [7] While juveniles may be detained with their migrant mothers, [8] juveniles are not to be held under sentence of death. [9] The Department of State reports that state security forces may subject prisoners to inhumane treatment and deny them medical care; it is possible that these are not death-sentenced prisoners (they may be individuals detained arbitrarily by state security). [10] Some female prisoners reported being treated well at Jdeida Prison, although unmarried women might be denied medical assistance during pregnancy or birth. Because they were young unwed mothers caring for infants and detained under non-capital charges (zina is applied discriminatorily to women in Libya, but is not a capital offense), we do not know whether their experiences were comparable to those of inmates held under sentence of death in that facility. [11]

According to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, President Dr. Abdulrahman Abu Tuta, death sentences are not executed until 4 years after confirmation, so that the victim’s family may exercise its right to pardon the offender for compensation. [12]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

Yes. Foreign nationals comprise about 1.5 million of the total 6.4 million persons in Libya; [13] they comprise about half of the individuals on death row. [14] Cerene, a newspaper affiliated with Qaddafi’s son, reported that a disproportionate number of the 200 or so individuals on death row in 2010 were foreigners, who were often denied interpretation or translation during legal proceedings, and were also denied consular access. [15]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

Death row in Libya includes (or has recently included) nationals of Egypt, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Somalia, Ghana, Algeria, Gambia, and possibly other nations. [16] A 2010 news report cited an NGO as reporting 40 Nigeriens (Niger) on death row in Libya. [17] Another source reported around 50 Nigerians (Nigeria) on death row. [18] Human Rights Watch reports “a large number” of Egyptians under sentence of death. [19]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

Yes. Amnesty International reported that three women were held under sentence of death in the women’s ward at Jdeida Prison. [20]

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

We found no reports of individuals held under sentence of death for crimes committed while under the age of 18, and Libya prohibits this practice. [21]

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

According to Amnesty International, roughly half of death row prisoners are foreign, and most of these are from sub-Saharan Africa. [22] Poor sub-Saharan migrants may be abused or tortured to obtain confessions before trial and frequently do not speak Arabic and cannot understand court proceedings carried out against them; additionally, they lack the cultural knowledge and financial resources to negotiate pardons after they are convicted on capital charges in unfair trials. [23] Cerene, a newspaper affiliated with Qaddafi’s son, reports that of the 200 or so individuals on death row (more are held under sentence of death), it appears that a disproportionate number are foreign nationals who often did not receive proper translation services during their defense and often were not permitted consular access. [24]

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Although Libya may assign lawyers to defendants who do not have lawyers and provides legal aid, defendants are not permitted to refuse legal counsel, and are sometimes appointed counsel that is not independent. In practice, lawyers often do not see their clients, who may not know the charges or evidence against them until trial. [25] Defendants who face potentially capital charges for political offenses tried before the State Security Court are somewhat likely to simply be detained indefinitely without trial, and they might not be permitted counsel of their own choosing. [26] Amnesty International catalogues some nonpolitical cases where defendants were denied representation until years after their arrests. [27]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

We do not know whether Libya provides lawyers for indigent prisoners on appeal.

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

In practice, some lawyers might not be independent; also, they sometimes do not see their clients, who may not know the charges or evidence against them until trial. Effective representation may be seriously undermined in cases before the State Security Court. Human rights defenders may face serious reprisals. [28]

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

Torture, long periods of pre-trial detention without access to an attorney, denial of representation, inadequate safeguards at trial and a system in which discretion during sentencing for many capital defendants depends on large payments to the families of victims undermines the legitimacy of evidence, deprives defendants of the right to a fair trial and leads to arbitrary convictions and executions of a disproportionate number of poor migrant workers. In one case, a suspect in a case involving several co-accused died in custody due to severe beatings. A suspect who “confessed” and survived (after enduring torture and cruel treatment such as suspension, being bound, and being beaten) was reportedly denied an interpreter at court hearings, was not provided a lawyer until two or three years after her arrest, was not given a chance to defend herself, and was sentenced to death. [29]

References

[1] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 56, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[2] Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010.
[3] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 67-71, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[4] Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010.
[5] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 67-72, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009. Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 51-53, http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/12/12/truth-and-justice-can-t-wait-0, (HRW Document 1-56432-563-6), Dec. 2009.
[6] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Libya, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136074.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[7] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 55, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[8] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Libya, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136074.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[9] Libya Penal Code, art. 81, Law No. __ of 1953.
[10] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Libya, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136074.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[11] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 65-66, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[12] Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 67, http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/12/12/truth-and-justice-can-t-wait-0, (HRW Document 1-56432-563-6), Dec. 2009.
[13] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 90, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009; U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Libya, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5425.htm, Nov. 17, 2010.
[14] Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 67-69, http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/12/12/truth-and-justice-can-t-wait-0, (HRW Document 1-56432-563-6), Dec. 2009; Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 56, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009; Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010.
[15] Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010.
[16] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 56-57, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009; Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010; Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010; Ghana Web, Minister Confirms Execution of 4 Ghanaians in Libya, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=139657, Feb. 22, 2008.
[17] Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010.
[18] Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010.
[19] Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 68, http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/12/12/truth-and-justice-can-t-wait-0, (HRW Document 1-56432-563-6), Dec. 2009.
[20] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 56, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[21] Libya Penal Code, art. 81, Law No. __ of 1953.
[22] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 56-57, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[23] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 10, 56-62, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009. Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 67-68, http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/12/12/truth-and-justice-can-t-wait-0, (HRW Document 1-56432-563-6), Dec. 2009; Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010.
[24] Daily Champion, Libya: Government Executes Ten Nigerians, Eight Others, http://allafrica.com/stories/201006030113.html, Jun. 2, 2010.
[25] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Libya, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136074.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[26] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Libya, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136074.htm, Mar. 11, 2010; Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 32, 45, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[27] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 61-62, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009.
[28] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Libya, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136074.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[29] Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, p. 56-62, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009. Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, p. 67-68, 1-56432-563-6, Dec. 2009. Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

In 2007, the Human Rights Committee pursuant to its periodic review of Libya’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights expressed concern that Libya’s reporting to the Committee was late, unresponsive to earlier requests for data, and inadequate. [1] The Committee pointed out that Libya’s internal law did not release it from its obligations under the Vienna Convention [2] (which affects consular access). The Committee expressed concern that some laws authorizing the death penalty were vague and broadly defined and could not be described as the most serious crimes, as required by Article 6(2) of the ICCPR. It also found Libya’s reporting on executions to be imprecise and inadequate. It recommended that Libya reduce and better define death eligible offenses and engage in more detailed reporting on death sentences and executions, abolish the death penalty and consider ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. [3] The Committee expressed concern over systematic torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, including misconduct in prosecuting a capital case against a foreign doctor and nurses and expressed concern that Libya used coercion in an attempt to gain impunity for its misconduct in that case. [4] The Committee expressed concern over lengthy pre-trial detention in which individuals are held incommunicado, and recommended that Libya address this inadequacy and assure prompt access to lawyers. [5] The Committee expressed concern that Libya had abolished the People’s Court only to institute the State Security Court, and recommended that Libya assure judicial review of the convictions and sentences that had been pronounced by the People’s Court. [6] The Committee noted that Libyan law authorizes the death penalty for the establishment (or calling for the establishment) of groups, organizations or associations that are based on political ideology inconsistent with revolutionary ideals, and stated that Libya should make available statistics on the numbers of death sentences or prison sentences for such offenses, and abolish those offenses as its obligations under the ICCPR require. [7] The Committee recommended that Libya complete and enact a new Penal Code that is consistent with the ICCPR. [8]

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

In the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, Libya simultaneously supported and rejected the recommendation that it consider a moratorium on executions, while simultaneously withholding comment and rejecting recommendations that it abolish the death penalty or restrict its scope regarding political crimes such as those related to membership in disapproved organizations or associations. [9]

References

[1] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 40 of the Covenant, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, para. 3, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/LBY/CO/4, Nov. 15, 2007.
[2] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 40 of the Covenant, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, para. 8, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/LBY/CO/4, Nov. 15, 2007.
[3] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 40 of the Covenant, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, para. 13, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/LBY/CO/4, Nov. 15, 2007.
[4] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 40 of the Covenant, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, para. 15, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/LBY/CO/4, Nov. 15, 2007.
[5] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 40 of the Covenant, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, para. 19, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/LBY/CO/4, Nov. 15, 2007.
[6] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 40 of the Covenant, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, para. 22, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/LBY/CO/4, Nov. 15, 2007.
[7] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 40 of the Covenant, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, para. 24, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/LBY/CO/4, Nov. 15, 2007.
[8] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 40 of the Covenant, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, para. 21, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/LBY/CO/4, Nov. 15, 2007.
[9] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, paras. 93-96, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/15, Jan. 4, 2011.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

Reprieve
PO Box 72054
London EC3P 3BZ
United Kingdom
Tel 020 7553 8140
Fax 020 7553 8189
info@reprieve.org.uk
http://www.reprieve.org.uk

Helpful Reports and Publications

Human Rights Watch, Libya—Truth and Justice Can’t Wait: Human Rights Developments in Libya Amid Institutional Obstacles, 1-56432-563-6, Dec. 2009, http://www.hrw.org.

Amnesty Intl., “Libya of Tomorrow”: What Hope for Human Rights?, MDE 19/007/2010, Jun. 2009, http://www.amnesty.org.

U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Libya, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136074.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.

Marvat Rishmawi, The Arab Charter on Human Rights and the League of Arab States: An Update, 10 Human Rights Law Review 169, http://hrlr.oxfordjournals.org/content/10/1/169.full, 2010.

The Tripoli Post, Libya Human Rights Society Issues Annual Report, http://www.tripolipost.com/articledetail.asp?c=1&i=3853, Dec. 12, 2009.

Laure Pichegru, Death Penalty Falls Heavily on Migrants, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51867, Jun. 18, 2010.

Tahir Mahmood, ed., Criminal Law in the Muslim World, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996.

Additional notes regarding this country

As of April 2011, Libya was in a state of a severe unrest which has led to international scrutiny and armed intervention.

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