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Human Rights in Libya

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Overview of Human Rights in Libya


The Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya is an authoritarian military regime. The human rights situation improved slightly in recent years as Libya is trying to reintegrate into the international community.  Still, serious abuses remain.

Law 71 bans group activity based on any political ideologies in opposition to the principles of Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi. Hundreds of individuals are in prison for violating this law. The fate of dozens of prisoners is unknown. Violators of the law can be put to death. According to one Libyan group, more than 250 political prisoners have disappeared.

Security forces in Libya monitor the population for dissenters of the regime. Self-censorship among journalists and academics is the norm. There are no private radio or television stations or mainstream newspapers. The state-controlled media does not criticize the government.

The internet is the only access to uncensored news and dozens of opposition or independent websites are quickly emerging as a result; the government is working to restrict access to those sites.

No truly independent non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operate in Libya. The two human rights groups which exist in Libya are somehow linked to the government.

Libya has no asylum law. Thousands of foreigners, mostly sub-Saharan Africans who seek refuge in Libya, are often forcibly deported back to their country of origin.

The government did initiate some reforms recently. The People’s Court, a body which had tried most political cases without due process, was abolished. New penal and criminal procedure codes are being drafted. The government says it will examine some past human rights violations, most notably the 1998 deaths of prisoners in Abu Selim prison by prison guards. It has also started to periodically allow scrutiny from human rights groups after many years of denying entry into Libya.

Human Development Index (HDI) Rank:

64th out of 177

Note: Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite index that measures the level of well-being of nations in the world. It uses factors such as poverty, literacy, life-expectancy, education, gross domestic product, and purchasing power parity to assess the average achievements in each nation. It has been used in the United Nation’s Human Development Report since 1993.

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