Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) is concerned by the increase in attacks on judges and lawyers in Libya after a senior judge from Bayda, Mohammed Naguib Huwaidi was shot dead in a drive-by shooting in front of the local courthouse last Sunday. LFJL would like to extend its condolences to the family of Justice Naguib Huwaidi, and calls for an investigation into his death.
This marks the third assassination of a judge in Libya, including Justices Murad Alarouby in Tripoli and Gumma Aljawi in Benghazi.
Earlier this month, lawyer and human rights activist, Hanan Al-Newaisery, and her father and children’s rights activist, Mustafa Al-Newaisry, were assaulted and beaten in front of Misrata’s Zarouk courthouse. Mr. Al-Newaisry was then kidnapped and further assaulted. Ms. Al-Newaisery had previously informed authorities of threats made to her by the opposing party, including threats of rape. No action was taken.
Acts of violence and retaliation against lawyers and judges have increased at an alarming rate across the country as individuals have resorted to violence to take the law into their own hands. These attacks signify a great threat to the establishment of the rule of law, and disrupt any progress being made to re-build the country’s already fraught judicial system.
“It is the role of the legal community to uphold the rule of law. Any attack on members of the legal community, is an attack on the fundamental principles of the rule of law and the right to access to justice. It could have the potential to silence victims, in particular vulnerable victims of human rights abuses, and could discourage lawyers and judges from taking controversial cases. This ultimately sends the message that violence is above the rule of law,” said LFJL Director Elham Saudi. “If we are to overcome these attacks, and build trust in our judicial system, the perpetrators of these violent attacks must be held accountable.”
LFJL calls for greater protections, such as tighter security at courthouses, for the legal community, who not only face the great challenges of rebuilding the judicial system, but also face risks to their personal safety that further encumber their work on a daily basis. “No person should be prevented from going to work because of fear of attack. When this happens to lawyers and judges, it not only breaches their right to physical safety but also holds hostage the ability of other persons to access justice and to enforce their own rights,” added Saudi.