PHR has been addressing human rights violations in Libya since 2006, when it advocated for the release of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian physician wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for allegedly infecting children with the AIDS virus in a Libyan hospital. In a joint delegation with the International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organizations, PHR called for an internationally-recognized fair trial, the dismissal of confessions extracted under torture, access for defense attorneys to their clients, and the right for international expert witnesses to testify about infection transmission using scientific evidence. The health workers were eventually released after eight years of imprisonment.
In 2008, PHR advocated for the release of ailing Libyan political prisoner Fathi al-Jahmi, who was examined in Libya by PHR advisor Dr. Scott Allen, and called for an investigation into his death while still in custody in 2009.
PHR also investigated severe human rights violations committed by Muammar Qaddafi’s regime during the 2011 uprising that eventually ended his 42-year-long autocratic rule. In September 2011, PHR investigators went to Tripoli to investigate allegations of mass murder, resulting in our report “32nd Brigade Massacre: Evidence of War Crimes and the Need to Ensure Justice and Accountability in Libya.”
Previously, in June 2011, PHR sent an investigative team to the coastal city of Misrata shortly after rebel forces liberated it. Our report provides evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, torture, rape, forced internment, and disappearances. Following these findings, as well as the discovery of mass graves and mass killing sites in Libya, PHR called for the protection of all evidence and witnesses so that war crimes could be fully investigated.