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Libya making slow progress on human rights: HRW

[JURIST] Libya is making strides towards greater transparency and acknowledgment of human rights, but still has a long way to go, according to a report [text; press release] published Saturday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. The report, entitled "Libya: Truth and Justice Can't Wait," is a follow up to a 2006 report [text] "Words to Deeds." While acknowledging Libya's strides in opening itself back up to the rest of the world, HRW also notes that there is no independent journalism nor independent non-governmental organizations:

Overall, unjustified limits on free expression and association remain the norm, including penal code provisions that criminalize "insulting public officials" or "opposing the ideology of the Revolution." Many relatives of prisoners killed in a 1996 incident at Abu Salim prison are still waiting to learn how their relatives died and to see those responsible punished. The jurisdiction of courts, the duties of government agencies, respect for legal rights of prisoners and adherence to the country’s stated list of human rights often remain murky, erratic and contradictory.

HRW officials visited Libya for 10 days during April, and continue to monitor the situation from outside the country. Libya has not responded publicly to the report.

Libya's stance on immigrants was criticized in September [JURIST report] by another HRW report, which also attacked Italy's policies. Libya has also undergone continued criticism for the alleged massacre [BBC backgrounder] that took place at Abu Salim prison in 1996. Prisoners, mostly political, protested conditions there and up to 1,220 were killed by guards [HRW report]. Trials of those responsible have been slow in coming.

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