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Libya national assembly criminalizes torture, kidnapping

Libya's national assembly passed laws on Tuesday which criminalize torture and kidnapping. Those found guilty of violating the laws [Washington Post report] could face up to ten years of imprisonment. The law treats anyone who stands by and allows these acts to occur as complicit [Libya Herald report] in the crime. Less than two years after the uprising that overthrew dictator Moammar Gadhafi [BBC obituary], Libya's new government has continued its efforts to rein in the country's armed militias. These militias have been known to capture and torture citizens, including the Chief of Staff of Prime Minister Ali Zidan, who was kidnapped last week and released on Monday. The relationship between the government and the militias has been codependent since 2011, with the militias filling in the gaps in security as Libya works to build its new government. The government has begun to try to control the militia's tactics. Despite the kidnapping and torture laws, many doubt that the government has the strength [Reuters report] to enforce its new laws. The militias have reacted to criticism with force and threats.

This is the latest in the ongoing efforts to ensure a properly-functioning justice system and promote reconciliation in Libya after the 2011 conflict. In March, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged [JURIST report] the Libya government to ensure the protection of civilians. The trial [JURIST report] of 40 former Libyan officials began earlier in March, in al-Zawiya. The charges included inciting the killing of protesters during the revolution, wasting public funds, embezzlement and abuse of power. In February, the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] called on Libya [JURIST report] to extradite former Gaddafi intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi [BBC profile].

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