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Justice & Human Rights for Africa

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Case Summary: Application No 004/2011 African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights v. Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

By Harriet Page

Periodically, ARC reviews the jurisprudence before the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights. On behalf of ARC, Harriet Page reviews Application No 004/2011 African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights v. Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.


Libya gained its independence in 1951. Following a coup d’etat led by Gaddafi in 1969 the name of the State was changed to the “Libyan Arab Republic”. From 1986 to 2011 the official name of the State was the “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”. In 2011 the National Transitional Council was set up which referred to the State as “Libya”. This “Jamahiriya” was described as a “direct democracy” without any political parties. There had been much oppression and terror reported, including “Green Terror” which was a term used to describe campaigns of violence against the opponents of Gaddafi.


On the 3rd March 2011, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Applicant) brought an action against the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (the Respondent) before the African Court. This application alleged significant violation of human rights guaranteed under the African charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The Pan African Lawyers’ Union (PALU) was granted leave to participate as amicus curiae in this application.

On 25th March 2011, the Court, in accordance with article 27(2) of the Protocol and Rule 51(1) of the Rules, issued an order of provisional measures due to the urgency and gravity of the situation.

During the process, the Applicant asked for two time extensions. The second application requested an extension of 1 year in order to allow the situation in Libya to evolve sufficently to gather evidence. The Court granted an extension to the Applicant to reply to the Respondent’s response until the 31st August 2012.

On 2nd May 2012, the representative of the Respondent requested that the Court drop the case as the Respondent government no longer existed.

Furthermore, on the 28 August 2012 the Applicant requested that the matter be “stood down” until evidence could be gathered effectively in Libya.

There was a lack of response from all parties as of the 15th March 2013 in regards to the Applicant’s request that the matter be “stood down” and the Respondent’s request that the case be dropped.


The Court found that the Applicant had requested an indefinite extension of time on the 28th August 2012, and it had also failed to reply to the letter of the Respondent requesting the Court to drop the case.

As a result of these two factors, the Court found that the Applicant had failed to pursue the Application.

The court ordered the Application to be struck out on 15th March 2013.


The judgement of this case is primarily based on the lack of responses from the various parties involved. It is also based on the inability of the Applicant to gain the evidence needed to continue with the Application due to the volatile situation on the ground in Libya during this time period.

It will be interesting to see if another case will be brought in the future when evidence can be gathered of human rights abuses committed in Libya.


For further reading about this case, click the following link:


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