Dernawi v. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Human Rights Committee
Communication No. 1143/2002
20 July 2007
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Art. 12: Freedom of movement
Art. 17: Right to privacy, family, home and correspondence
Art. 23: Protection of the family
Art. 24: Protection of children
Mr. Farag El Dernawi (the author) was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a political group in Libya. Mr. Dernawi discovered that security personnel had been to his home to arrest him while he was out of the country, and so he did not return to Libya, where his wife and children were living. Mr Dernawi later successfully claimed asylum in Switzerland, and the Swiss authorities approved the reunification of his family in that country. When Mr Dernawi's wife tried to leave Libya to join him, Libyan authorities refused to allow her out of the country and seized the passport that she held jointly with her three youngest children. The author's wife claimed that she made several unsuccessful attempts to reclaim her passport, and was unable to secure the services of a lawyer on the basis of her husband's political activities. The three elder children held their own passports and could have tried to leave the country, but did not want to leave their mother and siblings in Libya. Mr. Dernawi alleged violations of his family's freedom of movement and right to respect for their family, and alleged that the State had failed to provide the required protection for the family and special protection for children.
The Human Rights Committee found that in withdrawing the passport of Mr. Dernawi's wife and three children without providing a justification on the basis of national security, public order, public health or morals, or the rights and freedom of others, the State had violated their right to freedom of movement (art. 12). The Committee also found that in providing a barrier to the reunification of the family, the State had failed to respect the family rights of the author, his wife and all six children, as well as failing to meet its obligation to respect the rights of the family unit (arts. 17 and 23). The Committee also considered that the State had failed to provide special protection for persons under the age of 18 in separating the children from one of their parents without persuasive countervailing reasons (art. 24).
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