On June 3, 2016, the African Court on Human and People's Rights (the Court) rendered its first default judgment, in a case brought by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) against Libya for alleged violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter). The Commission had alleged that the Libyan government had violated its obligations under the Charter to protect one of its citizens, Saif al-Islam Kadhafi, from incommunicado detention and to provide him access to counsel. When Libya failed to respond to the Commission's complaint and to the Court's order of provisional measures, the Court proceeded to the merits and found Libya in violation of several articles of the Charter. Its decision reflected both a measured approach to the issuance of default judgments and an emphasis on the need for states to comply with their human rights obligations even in situations of exceptional political and security instability.
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