Bashagha Violates the Supreme Court and ICJ on a National Security Case – Al Marsad

The Minister of the Interior of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Fathi Bashagha, unilaterally decided to grant passports to persons born in the Aouzou Strip, a province that runs the length of the border between Chad and Libya, and which was subject to a territorial dispute that was settled by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1994 decision in favour of the Republic of Chad which granted sovereignty to Chad over the Aouzou Strip, and, thus, ended the Libyan claim.

[Libya, 14 September 2019] – The GNA Minister of the Interior, Fathi Bashagha, without reference or compliance to the supreme judicial and legislative authorities in the country, decided unilaterally that the inhabitants of the Aouzou Strip have citizenship rights, including obtaining national identification numbers that entitle them to acquire passports or any other rights granted by the Libyan nationality.

The area (in red) demarcating the Aouzou Strip

The Ministry of the Interior’s Executive Order was announced yesterday by the Minister’s Office Manager and was not circulated via the Ministry’s official website but was leaked through a Facebook account. The Executive Decision seems to have been based on a legal opinion stating that everyone, who has a national identification number and is born in the Aouzou Strip, has the right to obtain a Libyan passport. The GNA Ministry of the Interior requested that the Directors of Passports, Nationality and Foreigners Affairs departments take the necessary measures to put the aforementioned executive decision into force.

The case of the territorial dispute, which turned into an armed conflict, between Libya and Chad was referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, the Netherlands, in 1994. The ICJ ruled against the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (the official name of Libya at that time) and awarded sovereignty over the Aouzou Strip to the Republic of Chad. Consequently, the entire Aouzou Strip, land and inhabitants, has become an integral part of the Republic of Chad. After the ICJ ruled in favour of N’Djamena, the two countries amicably accepted the verdict, signed a Treaty of Friendship and Good Neighbourliness, and demarcated their common international borders.

A copy of the Ministry of the Interior’s Executive Order

The Aouzou Strip is Chadian: Territory and Inhabitants

After the ICJ delivered its Judgment on 3 February 1994, Libya was bound by the ruling to observe the resultant measures including refraining from establishing any presence in any form in the said region. Thus, all Libyan naturalization measures became void by international law because Aouzou Strip was under Libyan military occupation.

Libya officially ceased to have any relations whatsoever with the Aouzou Strip and its inhabitants who were no longer Libyans in any way, and the Libyan forces withdrew from the occupied region. The coincidence, here, is that the officer who took down the Libyan flag from the flagpole, in compliance with the implementation of the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), based on the orders of the former Libyan leadership, and in accordance with the relevant agreements between Libya and Chad, was Major General Mabrouk al-Ghazwi, the current Commander of the Western Region Operations Group of the Libyan National Army (LNA), who was at that time serving in the Southern Frontiers’ Military Sector.

In a lengthy previous interview with Al Marsad, al-Ghazwi recounted these details and how he felt bitterness to take down his country’s flag from a land whose inhabitants chose to be part of the Chadian state, stressing that they had nothing to do with Libya, neither land, history nor language, although the leaders of the Senussi Order as well as the Gaddafi regime tried to establish control over the region.

The General People’s Congress later recognized the ruling issued by the International Court of Justice that stripped Libya of any form of presence in, or sovereignty over the Aouzou Strip, and affirmed Chad’s indisputable right to exert its sovereignty and control over the region. Beginning in August 1996, the General People’s Committee (the Cabinet during Gaddafi’s era) took the necessary urgent measures that stipulated that the inhabitants of the Aouzou Strip, by residence or by birth, whether residing in the Aouzou Strip or inside Libya, are foreign citizens not entitled to the rights of the Libyan citizens for they are part of a different country. The General People’s Committee reiterated and reconfirmed its decision in 2006. Neither the General People’s Committee nor the post-2011 governments have so far issued anything to the contrary.

The Absence of Legal, Legislative, and Judicial Foundations

This means, of course, that none of the inhabitants of the Aouzou Strip, or its newborns, have the right to Libyan citizenship, and are not entitled to acquire Libyan national numbers whether original or counterfeit. This raises a question with regard to the legal basis upon which Bashagha, the GNA Minister of the Interior, issued his decision to grant passports to those who have national numbers that they do not have the right to, by law or by geography. This also leads to the question of how they obtained the national numbers in the first place given the fact that they are non-Libyans under international and national laws, and that they are still subject to the sovereignty of another foreign country, Chad, and are Chadian citizens, and holders of Chadian passports by the force of the Chadian laws.

In August 2016, the Supreme Court in Tripoli ruled on the appeal against Libya’s denial of citizenship to the residents of the Aouzou Strip. Al Marsad is the first Libyan media platform to obtain a copy of the Supreme Court’s ruling in this regard. The Supreme Court affirmed that the Aouzou Strip is a Chadian territory by virtue of the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, and by virtue of the agreement of the governments of the two countries, and that the Aouzou Strip, and its inhabitants, are no longer affiliated with the Libyan state. Accordingly, they have no right to carry Libyan identification papers, including driving licenses and identity cards.

These identifiers are valid sovereign measures for which the judiciary has no right to interfere, including the cancellation of the identity cards issued to the Aouzou Strip residents who were under a Libyan military occupation authority. The Supreme Court considered it a sovereign decision pertaining to national security.

Therefore, how would a commissioned Minister, whose unconstitutional Government of National Accord has never obtained the vote of confidence from the Libyan House of Representatives (HoR), and has never taken a unanimous decision on this subject, and in the absence of all the aforementioned, override the decisions of all the previous governments?

The GNA Minister of the Interior is not entitled to unilaterally intervene in such critical issue on an opinion of a legal office that contravenes the highest judicial ruling in the country.

Ulterior Motives

The fact that Bashagha’s decision is based on a legal opinion from the Legal Office of the Ministry of Interior does not authorize him to issue decisions that infringe on the higher interests of the country. The Legal Office of the Ministry of the Interior is considerably lower than the Supreme Court.

Moreover, the Minister of the Interior of the Government of National Accord (GNA) is not entitled to take any action in accordance with such views on sovereign matters, and goes beyond the provisions of the highest judicial authority in Libya. Therefore, it is not a valid decision. This is due to the fact that Libyan national numbers, nationality and passports are not granted, even retroactively, to persons who were born in a territory that became non-Libyan in the wake of an armed conflict, and pursuant to an international legal ruling.

The residents of the Aouzou Strip became citizens of a foreign country by virtue of geography and local laws, which state that the inhabitants of the Aouzou Strip or their descendants, whether they live there or abroad, are foreign nationals under the sovereignty of another foreign country. Chad, in turn, has taken all the necessary measures since the ICJ ruling to grant the inhabitants of the Aouzou Strip Chadian national identification documents and passports.

It is worth noting that the majority of the population of the Aouzou Strip are descendants of the Chadian Toubou tribes, or what is known in the South as Toubou Rashada. Most of them do not speak Arabic. Tens of thousands have also poured into Libya since 2011, taking advantage of the chaos and security vacuum. They are accused of tampering with the Libyan social fabric, and trying to change the demography of the country by falsifying national IDs and carrying weapons.

The last chapter of these accusations was their involvement in the displacement of more than 2,000 Arab families from Murzuq during the past month before Bashagha stepped in, to further exacerbate the situation, by granting passports to those born in the Aouzou Strip for allegedly possessing national numbers that they are not entitled to have since they are nationals of a foreign country.

Bashagha ignored the decision of the Libyan Supreme Court that upheld the previous and current Libyan state’s subsequent measures that consider the population of that foreign land as non-Libyan citizens.

Al Marsad, hereby, publishes a photocopy of the Supreme Court ruling issued in 2016 to uphold Libya’s sovereign procedures since 1992 concerning the removal of any Libyan presence from the Chadian Aouzou Strip and its inhabitants, with no judicial judgment contradicting this ruling. Originally, the judiciary do not have jurisdiction over this sovereign issue, which has been adjudicated by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague on February 3, 1993. The ICJ ruling was recognized by the parties to the conflict, in Tripoli, N’Djamena, and even the Aouzou Strip inhabitants themselves.



© Al Marsad English (2019)


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