Libya on the spotlight

8 Sep

Taking advantage of US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice’s visit to Libya, Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have highlighted the human rights abuses that have persisted in the autocratic regime (AI 2008a; HRW 2008a) . In a letter to Rice, HRW has urged the former not to place to business and terrorism issues above human rights concerns (HRW 2008 a).

The issues voiced by both human rights organisations include the imprisonment of political prisoners and suppression of political dissent. These critics include Fathi el-Jahmi who ihad been imprisoned but now reported to be in hospital custody. He had called for political liberalisation such as conducting free and fair elections and having a free press. Idriss Boufayed, the purported organiser with 11 other men for planning a peaceful protest  are still being imprisoned (AI 2008a; HRW 2008a). Three other men from the same group who had planned the demonstration are said to have been released in 2007 and 2008 though two of them are reported to have disappeared (HRW 2008b, p. 3)

According to the AI 2008 report on Libya, other human rights violations perpetuated by the state includes Libyan citizens who had disappeared after being returned by the US. They had been held captive by the US in secret prison facilities and Guantanamo Bay. There were also allegations of refugees and asylum seekers from Eritrea who said they were being tortured by the authorities after trying to seek refuge in Libya (AI 2008b).

Other gross human rights violations include the death of Mohammed Adel Abu Ali, a Libyan who was deported back to his country after being refused asylum from Sweden. Women are also unfairly and arbitrarily detained in ‘social rehabilitation centers’ for sexual misconduct’ (HRW 2008b).

Not surprisingly, Rice is reported not to have raised these human rights issues with Gaddafi. The dictator had given the former jewelry, a ring, a locket, and his political manifesto known as ‘The Green Book’ as souvenirs. The Green Book is Gaddafi’s vision for a direct democracy model based on ‘peoples committee’. The ‘White Book’ which proposes a one state solution on the Israel-Palestine conflict was also reported to have been distributed to journalists who are present (Lee 2008).

– Works Cited –

Amnesty International 2008a, Human rights in Libya must be on the agenda of discussions with US, accessed 8 September 2008

Human Rights Watch 2008a, US: Press Tripoli to improve rights, accessed 8 September 2008

Amnesty International 2008b, Amnesty International Report 2008 – The State of the World’s Human Rights,, pp.193 – 194

Human Rights Watch 2008b, Libya Rights at Risk, accessed 8 September 2008

Lee, M 2008, ‘Gadhafi rehabilitation sealed at Rice dinner’, Associated Press, accessed 8 September 2008.

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