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Rights groups urge Tunisia not to extradite former Libya PM

The Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy websites] and 12 other human rights groups issued a statement on Friday urging the government of Tunisia not to extradite former Libyan prime minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], warning that he would be "at a real risk for torture" if he is returned to Libya. The statement [AP report] urges Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki [official website, in Arabic] to seek guarantees from the Libyan government that al-Mahmoudi will be kept safe and will receive a fair trial, and not to sign the extradition order in the absence of those guarantees. Reports indicate that al-Mahmoudi fears for his safety and claims to be the sole possessor of Libyan state secrets following the death [JURIST reports] of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] in October. Some commentators have argued that African tyrants should be tried in their home countries [JURIST op-ed].

In November a Tunisian court ordered al-Mahmoudi's extradition, and HRW issued a statement [JURIST reports] urging Tunisia not to carry out the extradition. Al-Mahmoudi's extradition is the latest legal episode in an ongoing effort by Libyan and international courts to investigate officials in Gaddafi's government [JURIST report]. In June, the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] issued arrest warrants [decision, PDF; JURIST report] for Gaddafi, as well as two high-ranking officials in his regime, for crimes against humanity. In June, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] decided to extend its investigation [JURIST report] of human rights abuses in Libya. In a 92-page report [text, PDF], the UNHRC declared that Gaddafi's regime committed murder, rape, torture and forced disappearance "as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population with knowledge of the attack."

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