Press release: The Libyan authorities should release the Executive Director and Director of the Registration Department of the Civil Society Commission in Benghazi
December 26, 2022
The undersigned Libyan human rights organizations express their strong condemnation and concern over the detention by the Internal Security Agency, on December 18, of the Executive Director of the Civil Society Commission in Benghazi, Ibrahim Al-Maqsabi, in addition to the detention of Salem Al-Maadani, Director of the Registration, Documentation and Branches Affairs Department of the Commission, on December 22. The detention of Al-Maqsabi and Al-Maadani comes as part of an escalating security campaign in Libya since the end of last year against human rights defenders and independent human rights organizations. Recently, the scope of the campaign has expanded to affect some of the Commission’s employees, as part of the security services’ efforts to control civil society in Libya, nationalize its activities, and manage its affairs through employees and officials who are subject to security instructions.
The signatory organizations have followed up on the conflict that erupted in the Civil Society Commission in Benghazi recently, which witnessed Mabrouka Baltamr, the former head of the Council of the Civil Society Commission, submitting a communication against Ibrahim Al-Maqsabi accusing him of continuing his work despite the termination of his mandate. Although the Public Prosecution office closed the investigation into the complaint on December 18, the Internal Security Agency detained Al-Maqsabi on the same day. The Commission’s Board of Directors issued a statement denouncing Al-Maqsabi’s detention, following the aforementioned complaint, which was submitted by the former Chairperson of the Commission, after the Council withdrew its confidence from her. The council also mentioned in its statement that the Internal Security Agency also confiscated computers from the executive management offices. The Council confirmed that the Commission would stop working until Al-Maqsabi was released and the confiscated devices were recovered.
It is worth noting that during the current month, the former Chairperson of the Commission canceled a decision issued by the Commission to grant licenses to practice work for 37 international non-governmental organizations operating in Libya, which prompted the Executive Director to issue a statement the next day confirming that the decision was issued by Mrs. Baltamar she no longer has the council’s confidence and the the Vice-President, Mr. Mahmoud Issa Al-Barasi was assigned to assume the duties of the Chairman of the Council temporarily, and the Executive Director requested international non-governmental organizations operating in Libya to continue the procedures for renewing licenses. This makes the signatory organizations believe that the reasons for detaining Al-Maqsabi and Al-Maadani go beyond what is being raised about the administrative dispute within the Commission, and that they may be paying the price for their policies in support of civil society and their failure to join the repressive security campaign against civil society organizations. In this context, the signatory organizations indicate that they have noticed during the past year that many organizations resorted to registering with the Civil Society Commission in Benghazi to escape the arbitrary restrictions imposed by the Commission in Tripoli on the registration of associations.
The Libyan human rights organizations that signed the statement call on the Libyan authorities to:
1 – Ensure the safety of the Executive Director of the Civil Society Commission in Benghazi and the Director of the Commission’s Registration Department and release them immediately and unconditionally.
2 – Exerting the necessary efforts to restructure the Civil Society Commission and unify it under one independent administration, which includes qualified persons known for their integrity, independence, respect for human rights, and keenness to protect civil society activity.
3 – Stop the interference of the security authorities in the affairs of the Civil Society Commission and stop the escalating security campaign against human rights defenders and workers of civil society organizations.
4 – Take immediate measures to allow the House of Representatives to discuss the draft law on associations put forward by Libyan civil society more than a year ago and make the necessary efforts to develop legislation regulating the work of civil society in Libya in accordance with international standards for freedom of establishing and organizing civil society associations.
– Defender Center for Human Rights
– Libyan Women’s Platform For Peace
– Aswat media network
– Adala for All
– Libya AL Mostakbal
– Libya Crimes Watch
– Libyan Organization for Independent Media (LOFIM)
– Aman against Discrimination
– Arab-International- Organization for Women’s Rights – Tripoli
– 17 February Environment and Human Rights Organization – Misrata
– Youth Organization for Tawergha
– Jurists without chains
– Nuasi for Gender Equality
– Solidarity for women Supporting and empowerment (SWSE)
– The Libyan Center for Freedom of the Press
– Independent Organization for Human Rights
– Athr Platform