Libya violates human rights despite new image - Amnesty
Human rights observance in Libya is failing to keep pace with the country's improved international image, with abuses rife and state security forces enjoying impunity for their actions, Amnesty International reports today.
Britain, the US and other countries are accused of turning a blind eye to "gross" domestic excesses committed by Muammar Gaddafi's regime, as they rush to co-operate over counter-terrorism and invest in the oil-rich north African country.
Floggings used as punishment for adultery, indefinite detentions and abuses of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, as well as the legacy of unresolved cases of enforced disappearances of dissidents are documented in a 135-page report - the product of Amnesty's first visit to Libya in five years during which the human rights organisation enjoyed partial co-operation from the authorities. Amnesty singles out Libya's internal security agency, which has unchecked powers to detain and interrogate individuals suspected of dissent or of terrorism-related activities. Detainees can be held incommunicado for long periods, tortured and denied access to lawyers. Hundreds languish in jails after serving their sentences or having been cleared by the courts. The death penalty is still used - and disproportionately against foreigners. The report highlights the failure to adequately address the notorious Abu Salim prison killings of 1996 in which up to 1,200 detainees are believed to have been extrajudicially executed following a riot. A promised investigation has not materialised and families of victims have been offered compensation on condition they do not resort to the courts.
The cases of dissidents Jabalah Matar, Mansour al-Kikhiya and others, who disappeared in Egypt, remain unresolved. There have been no efforts to investigate the "physical liquidation" of opponents of the regime during the 1980s.
Amnesty's mission, like a recent one by Human Rights Watch, was facilitated by the Gaddafi Development Foundation, run by the leader's reformist son and possible heir, Saif al-Islam. But planned prison visits were curtailed and researchers were unable to conduct activities independent of the GDF programme such as meet families of victims of human rights abuses.
Libya has seen "tangible but modest" improvements in freedom of expression but state control is still tight, says Amnesty. Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from elsewhere in Africa attempting to seek sanctuary in Italy and the EU face arrest, indefinite detention, and abuse, the report finds. Libya is not a signatory to the 1951 UN convention on refugees and this month, the authorities ordered the UNHCR to leave. (guardian.co.uk)| Article source