Rights group: Gaddafi's son needs lawyer

2011-12-21 10:05

New York - Libyan authorities should grant Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the former leader charged with war crimes, immediate access to a lawyer to help ensure he has due process, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

Last month Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said he would not demand that Saif al-Islam be handed over to the Hague-based court to face charges of crimes against humanity even though he has no guarantee that a Libyan trial would be fully fair.

Fred Abrahams of the New York-based group Human Rights Watch visited Muammar Gaddafi's son for 30 minutes on Sunday in Zintan, Libya.

"Saif al-Islam Gaddafi says he is getting good food and medical care - he had no complaints about the physical conditions of his detention," Abrahams said in a statement.

"His main concern was the lack of access to family and to a lawyer who can help his case," he said.

Fair trial

The International Criminal Court indicted Saif al-Islam along with his father and Libya's former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi over their alleged involvement in the killing of protesters during the revolt that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in August.

The National Transitional Council, which led the revolt that began in February, has repeatedly said it will not hand over Saif al-Islam and will ensure that he faces a fair trial in Libya.

Libyan authorities arrested Saif al-Islam on November 19, a month after his father was captured and killed.

"Saif al-Islam Gaddafi deserves his due process rights, and so too do the more than 8 000 other people in detention across Libya without access to a lawyer," Abrahams said.

"They should be properly investigated and brought as soon as possible before an independent judge," he said.


Last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Libya's former rebels were holding 7 000 detainees, many of them sub-Saharan Africans, without access to due legal process after the country's civil war.

Ban cited reports that some detainees had been tortured, that some people had been targeted because of their skin colour that women were held under male supervision without female guards and that children were being detained alongside adults.

Saif al-Islam told Abrahams that he has received visits from the general prosecutor, Abdelaziz al-Hasadi, and various Libyan government officials. The International Committee of the Red Cross has said it visited him as well.

Hasadi told Human Rights Watch that Saif al-Islam would have access to a lawyer the moment he is in a secure facility in Tripoli that will protect him from harm and prevent him from escaping.

Under Libya's code of criminal procedure, the state must allow a detainee access to a lawyer during an investigation if he or she asks for one, the group said in its statement.

Right to a lawyer

International standards, including the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, require giving defendants access to a lawyer within 48 hours of arrest, the group said.

The International Criminal Court judges have asked for further information related to Libya's request to try Saif al-Islam in Libya. Human Rights Watch said the Libyan authorities have until January 10 to respond.

Hasadi also told the group that he had opened an investigation into alleged corruption by Saif al-Islam before the civil war.

  • len.foulsham - 2011-12-21 10:27

    Lawyers can smell money from a long way, just like sharks!!!

  • Mashudu - 2011-12-21 10:27

    He needs a lawyer and Fair Trial.

  • FerretGee - 2011-12-21 10:38

    Why is it when they were in power, the human rights of their own countrymen and women were infinged on a daily basis, but now that he has been caught, his human rights must not be infringed? I am so sick of all these bleeding heart liberals who stand up for these dictators and criminals. Get him to court and let him defend himself. He is lucky to evcen be alive, let alone standing trial!

      goyougoodthing - 2011-12-21 10:43

      I agree. They jump on the human right's story when it suits but not when thousands of civilians are being murdered. Watch them do the same for Mugabe

      fanie.oosthuizen - 2011-12-21 11:35

      Because you do not treat/punish crime with crime. An unfair trail is by definition a crime.

      FerretGee - 2011-12-21 12:10

      Fanie, I didn't say he mustn't have a trial I said he must defend himself. If he is innocent he wont need any highly paid lawyer to prove it!!

      goyougoodthing - 2011-12-21 12:32

      Actually Fanie the time has come to punish crime with and eye for an eye. From admitted bleeding liberal to active campaigner for the death penalty, I know both sides of the story. String up the scum.

  • malcolm - 2011-12-21 10:53

    Give him a lawyer and a fair trial. Bring Blair and Bush in front of the ICC and give them lawyers and fair trials as well. Ban the UN. They are useless.

      Deon - 2011-12-21 12:28

      The UN is much better than the AU, helped Africa clearing up some dictators.

  • Ssekyanzi - 2011-12-21 18:04

    who are we to judge? ithink saif deserves a forgiveness, let every one of us check inside of ourself, let the by gone be by gone, remember the man already has a broken heart becouse of a dead father and a displassed familly which he has no access to, peaple of libya and all the concerned authority i beg of you to forgive this man and live everything to GOD, for the bible says ; do not judge so that you will not be judged.

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