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Back Activities Alert Archive Alert: Libya – Refugee Dies in Detention in Misratah

Alert: Libya – Refugee Dies in Detention in Misratah

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IHRC has received reports that a refugee detained at Misratah detention facility in Libya has died due to negligence by the Libyan authorities.

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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27 May 2008

Alert: Libya – Refugee Dies in Detention in Misratah


Contents
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Sample Letters


1. Summary

Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has received reports that a 38-year-old refugee named Birhane Solomun Hailesilase, who was detained at the Misratah detention facility in Libya, recently passed away. Other detained refugees believe that Hailesilase died due to neglect by the Libyan authorities. Currently, there are some other detainees who are sick like Hailesilase and have given up hope of life and believe they will suffer a similar fate.

Further, a female detainee, now resettled in Italy, was suspected to have had an organ removed from her body, almost a year ago, when she was returned from the hospital with a big scar on her body. Recent reports received by IHRC confirm this suspicion that a kidney was removed from her body.


2. Background

Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has received reports that a 38-year-old refugee named Birhane Solomun Hailesilase, who was detained at the Misratah detention facility in Libya, recently passed away. Other detained refugees believe that Hailesilase died due to neglect by the Libyan authorities.

Hailesilase had been suffering from an illness for some time, but did not receive due medical care. When his condition became serious, he was examined by Libyan doctors who stated that he had a lump on his body around the kidney. The doctors offered to operate on him but he refused fearing that they might remove one of his kidneys since a female detainee, who has now been resettled in Italy, was also suspected to have had an organ removed from her body when she was returned from the hospital with a big scar on her body. Recent reports received by IHRC confirm this suspicion that a kidney was removed from her body.

Hailesilase informed a UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) representative that he will only allow to be operated upon if the operation is supervised or guaranteed by the UNHCR. Apparently his request for UNHCR supervision during the operation was not met.

When Hailesilase's condition got worse, and after collective complaints by his fellow detainees, he was transferred to the hospital for treatment by the authorities.

However, some days before the writing of this alert, Hailesilase's fellow detainees were informed by the Libyan authorities that he died in hospital due to HIV infection. Detainees at Misratah believe that the authorities are making up this excuse to cover up their failure and negligence. The detainees thereafter complained to a UNHCR representative about Hailesilase's case but the UNHCR authorities reportedly informed them that there 'isn\'t anything they can do.'

Reports state that the detainees '…are very sad for… [Hailesilase's]…loss' and believe that 'more of them might die due to negligence.' Further, there are some other ill detainees like Hailesilase who 'just gave up [hope] in life and think they would face the same fate as Birhane.'

For background information about the detained refugees in Misratah and links to previous alerts, please refer to: http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=2837

To read the briefing prepared by IHRC on the issue, please visit: http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=2835


3. Action Required

a) Write to the Libyan Ambassador in your country urging him/her to give immediate attention to the detainees' health and safety.

UK campaigners can write to:

The People's Bureau of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Chargé d'Affaires Mr Omar R Jelban
15 Knightsbridge
London
SW1X 7LY

Fax: +44 207 245 0588

b) Write to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and appeal to him to take urgent action regarding the health and safety of the refugees at Misratah.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
High Commissioner Mr. Antonio Guterres
Case Postale 2500
CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt
Suisse.

Alternatively you can email UNHCR by visiting link http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/contact?hq=y


4. Sample Letters

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Sample letters are given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is extremely important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters.
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a. Sample Letter to Libyan Ambassador

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[Date]

The People's Bureau of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Chargé d'Affaires Mr Omar R Jelban
15 Knightsbridge
London
SW1X 7LY

Dear Mr Omar R Jelban,

Re: Death of Refugee Detained in Misratah

I am deeply concerned about the death of 38-year-old refugee, Birhane Solomun Hailesilase, who was detained at the Misratah detention facility in Libya.

According to reports by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), Mr Hailesilase had been suffering for some time but did not receive due medical care. When his condition got worse, the Libyan authorities examined him and informed him that he had a lump around his kidney. They offered to operate on him but he refused fearing that they may remove one of his kidneys, since a female detainee was also suspected to have had an organ removed from her body when she was returned from the hospital with a big scar on her body. IHRC states that it has received reports which confirm that she had a kidney removed.

When Mr Hailesilase's condition became serious, and after complaints by fellow detainees, he was transferred to the hospital for treatment, however, he recently passed away. The Libyan authorities informed his fellow detainees that Mr Hailesilase died from HIV infection; however, the detainees believe that Mr Hailesilase died due to negligence by authorities.

IHRC reports state that there are some other detainees who are ill like Mr Hailesilase, they have given up hope for life and think that they might have a similar fate as him.

I am deeply concerned about the fate of the rest of the detainees at Misratah. Those who are ill should be treated immediately for their particular medical conditions. I urge you to ensure that they are in good health and receive proper food. Further, please ensure the safety of all detainees and investigate reports about organ removal and ensure that this practice does not take place any longer with the other detainees.

I urge you to abide by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Organization of African Unity Convention to which Libya is state party with regards to these detained refugees. Please treat them in accordance with international human rights standards and assist them in their applications for asylum. Please ensure that the refugees are given the same rights as other Libyans.

Yours sincerely,


[Your Signature]

[Your Name]


b. Sample Letter to Mr Antonio Guterres, UNHCR

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[Date]

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
High Commissioner Mr Antonio Guterres
Case Postale 2500
CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt
Suisse.

Dear Mr Antonio Guterres,

Re: Death of Refugee Detained in Misratah, Libya

I am deeply concerned about the death of 38-year-old refugee, Birhane Solomun Hailesilase, who was detained at the Misratah detention facility in Libya.

According to reports by Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), Mr Hailesilase was not given due medical care, hence his condition got worse. When the Libyan authorities examined him, they informed him that he had a lump around his kidney and offered to operate on him. He refused fearing that they might remove one of his kidneys, since a female detainee was also suspected to have had an organ removed from her body when she was returned from the hospital with a big scar on her body. IHRC states that it has received reports which confirm that she had a kidney removed.

Mr Hailesilase sought help with UNHCR and informed them that he will only allow to be operated upon if the operation is supervised or guaranteed by the UNHCR. Apparently his request for UNHCR supervision during the operation was not met.

When Mr Hailesilase's condition became serious, and after complaints by fellow detainees, he was transferred to the hospital for treatment, however, he recently passed away. The Libyan authorities informed his fellow detainees that Mr Hailesilase died from HIV infection; however, the detainees believe that Mr Hailesilase died due to negligence by authorities. The detainees thereafter complained to a UNHCR representative about Mr Hailesilase's case but the UNHCR authorities reportedly informed them that there 'isn\'t anything they can do.'

IHRC reports state that there are some other detainees who are ill like Mr Hailesilase, they have given up hope for life and think that they might have a similar fate as him.

I am deeply concerned about the fate of the rest of the detainees at Misratah. I urge you to make efforts to intervene and ensure that all detainees are examined and treated for their particular medical conditions. Further, please investigate the current injustices being faced by the refugees, including reports about organ removal and ensure that this practice does not take place any longer with the other detainees. Please ensure that the detainees receive proper medication and food and are guaranteed protection while they are detained.

Please urge the Libyan authorities to treat the refugees in accordance with international human rights standards.

I look forward to hearing from you soon on this urgent matter,

Yours sincerely,

[Your Signature]

[Your Name]

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