Press Statement: On the 16th Anniversary of the Abu Salim prison massacre, LFJL calls for accountability and for the fair treatment of prisoners
28/29 June 2012
Today marks the sixteenth anniversary of the Abu Salim prison massacre in which over 1,260 prisoners of conscious were killed in a single night. The prison of Abu Salim is notorious as the site where thousands of political prisoners were tortured, killed and subjected to gross human rights violations during the forty years of the Gaddafi era.
The Libyan government must not repeat the cycle of suppression of dissent or forget the tragedy that happened sixteen years ago. LFJL calls on the government to conduct thorough investigations into the massacre, including finding the bodies of those killed on that day.
The government must re-establish Libya’s justice system and empower it to hold accountable perpetrators and bring justice to the relatives of the victims. The Libyan authorities must provide fair treatment to all prisoners held in Libya and provide fair and due process to suspects based in accordance with the rule of law.
The Abu Salim massacre served as the catalyst of the 17 February Libyan revolution when families of the victims gathered to protest the imprisonment of human rights lawyer, Fathi Terbil, who represented the relatives of the victims. The families called for truth, accountability for those responsible for the massacre, and most importantly, the protection of the most basic human rights for all citizens.
“The families of those killed in Abu Salim have waited for justice for a long time. On this day, we must all demand accountability. A fair trial and due process, whereby those who are responsible are held to account and are punished, are vital to enable the families of the victims to ascertain the events of that day and to receive the justice they have demanded for sixteen years,” said LFJL Director Elham Saudi. “It is important for the government to establish that, in the new Libya, the lessons of the past have been learnt and that never again will prisoners be held without due process. It is our duty as Libyans to honour all those who suffered under the Gaddafi regime, including those killed in Abu Salim, and not to repeat the ill treatment of prisoners or compromise the rule of law,”