Urgent appeal: The Forum Foundation for Development and Human Rights Dialogue Calls on the UN mission in Libya to Intervene to Release Mohamed Yahya Damja, who is Being Held by Tripoli Militias, and Demands an Investigation into the Facts of his Torture

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Press release

The Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue on Tuesday issued an urgent appeal to the UN Permanent Mission in Libya to intervene with the Government of Reconciliation for the release of Brigadier General Mohammed Yahya Khalifa Damja,  who  was illegally detained in connection with case No. 183-2018, He was placed in Tripoli’s main reform and rehabilitation institution prison, where he was tortured, and then obtained a judicial decision to release him on March 26th, but it was not executed, and his family confirms that armed militias cooperating with the Government of Reconciliation are illegally holding him.

The family of Brigadier General Mohamed Damja, 60, had sent a complaint from Libya to the foundation detailing his detention and bringing him to an unfair trial. The complaint said that the Government of National Accord and its armed militias, called the “Deterrence Force”, kidnapped the Director of the General Department of Central Security, Brigadier General Muhammad al-Damja, and his assistant Muhammad al-Kabawi on July 9, 2018., without an arrest warrant from the Attorney General,  he was charged with a false accusation in the fortresses of the militia without any evidence and tortured in the most horrible way, nothing but because he stood in front of their plans to destroy the security establishment, they described.
Al-Damja’s family pointed out that according to his lawyer, the prosecutor’s investigation into the case file dealt with the fact that the arrest procedures were illegal and that there was no concrete evidence of explicit bribery and the lawyer stated that the role of the prosecutor was to order the release of the General without any delay. ‎

Al-Damja’s family considered that such mock investigations were an additional means of abuse, placing him in custody for as long as possible and leaving him to the militias to abuse and torture, and even to murder as a means of additional punishment, after receiving a large share of violations in the stages of his arrest, trial, replication and fabrication of charges against him and detainees opposed to this religious group. ‎

“We know that such practices are not only subjected to General Mohammed Damja, but are shared by other people and have claimed the lives of these detainees, and we believe that if they indicate anything, they indicate the extent of the criminality of these militias and reflect only the lack of the current authority to manage the affairs of the country, and we hold both the President of the Presidential Council, the Minister of Interior and the Attorney General fully responsible for the life and safety of Brigadier General Mohamed Yahya al-Damja,”the statement said. ‎

Security sources said that his abduction followed a complaint by Al-Damja, vice president of the Presidential Council Ahmed Mateik, about the control of Tripoli by militias and obstacles and difficulties hindering the work of the administration, which led to the poor performance of members of the administration due to lack of support and participation in security conferences in Algeria and Tunisia aimed at drying up the sources of terrorism.

The detainee was held in the prisons of the Deterrence Militia, where medical and human rights reports confirmed that he suffered from deliberate medical neglect and torture in prisons, which in some cases reached the point of slow killing, subjected to torture and that he was no longer able to walk as a result, in addition to suffering a number of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and weakness in the heart muscle, which puts his life  in danger without medical care during his detention. Tripoli suffers from the proliferation of armed groups allied with the Government of Reconciliation and controls public facilities
in the capital and the marginalization of any role of the regular police forces, the most dangerous of which are the so-called deterrent force led by Abdul Rauf Kara, and the militia of the so-called “Tripoli Rebels” led by Haitham al-Tajawi.   ‎

The kidnapping of Brigadier General Mohamed Damja came during an escalation of rivalry and reprisals against opponents of the militia’s elders in a cell that lacked the lowest standards of care, where he was illegally detained and tortured and ill-treated, in an attempt by these militias to intimidate other detainees and opponents sick of them and the elderly not only from imprisonment, but also from the specter of slow killing behind the walls of their illegal prisons.

Al-Damja’s family demanded a full explanation of the conditions of non-human imprisonment, in addition to the intransigence of this militia in refusing to grant him his legal rights by visiting his lawyer to check on his health, where all medical reports were submitted to the prosecutor regarding his health condition and the special medical care he requires, and the memorandum and complaint did not result in any change in the situation. His   family expressed their fear for his life after seeing and hearing the accounts of the detainees
in militia prisons and how their health was deteriorating and threatening their lives, and that there were those who passed away without any attempt to help them, but the fact of their death was used to intimidate the detainees from the fate that awaits them.   ‎

On March 26, he was set to be released but the decision has not yet been implemented and he remains in a militia prison near The Metika airport, which is under daily bombardment, as well as fears of being infected with the Corona virus after cases emerged in Tripoli.

The Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue Foundation stresses that the UN Permanent Mission in Libya should intervene with the Government of Reconciliation in Tripoli to save the life of Brigadier General Mohamed Damja from illegal detention by militias, which violates the law and international conventions on fair trial, investigate the fact that he was tortured and bring the perpetrators to trial, and work to provide the necessary assistance to those who want to confront the power of militias in Tripoli and help them dry up the sources of terrorism.

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