By Hadi Fornaji
Tripoli, 19 June 2013:
Acts of violence and retaliation against lawyers and judges have been increasing at “an alarming rate” . . .[restrict]said Lawyers for Justice in Libya today, after the assassination of a Derna judge, the third such murder to occur this year.
Judge Najib Mohamed Huwaidi, was shot dead in a drive-by shooting in front of the local courthouse on Sunday. His slaying follows the killing of Justices Murad Alarouby in Tripoli and Gumma Aljawi in Benghazi.
The murders are only the most egregious acts against the legal profession. LFJL pointed out that earlier this month, lawyer and human rights activist, Hanan Al-Newaisery and her father, the children’s rights activist, Mustafa Al-Newaisry, were assaulted and beaten in front of Misrata’s Zarouk courthouse. The attacker was allegedly a defendant in a child abuse case. Onlookers did nothing to stop the assaults which took place in broad daylight.
Newaisry was then kidnapped and further assaulted said LFJL, adding that Hana Newaisery had previously informed authorities of threats made to her including rape but that no action had been taken.
“Acts of violence and retaliation against lawyers and judges have increased at an alarming rate across the country” said LFJL Director Elham Saudi, “ 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.
Saudi continued: “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. If we are to overcome these attacks, and build trust in our judicial system, the perpetrators of these violent attacks must be held accountable.”
Saudi called for tighter court security and protection for lawyers and judges, at a time when they are seeking to rebuild the judicial system.
“No person should be prevented from going to work because of fear of attack” said Saudi, “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.” [/restrict]