Libya human rights progress stalling: report

Libya human rights progress stalling: report

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[JURIST] Libya has made some progress with regards to human rights, but the situation remains "dire," according to a report [text, PDF; press release] released Wednesday by Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website]. The report details Libya's rise in prominence within the international community and warns other countries against turning a "blind eye" to the human rights situation within Libya in order to further their own national interests. AI reported violations by the Libyan Internal Security Agency (ISA) which "appear[s] to have unchecked powers to arrest, detain and interrogate individuals suspected of dissent or of terrorism-related activities." The group also documented harsh adultery punishments, abuse of migrants, the ongoing cases of enforced disappearances of dissidents and the continuing use of the death penalty in the country. The report did note a greater willingness by the Libyan government to accept criticism, but also warned that activists speaking against the government still face harassment and possible arrest. AI urged Libya to conform to international standards and warned of failure to do so, stating Libya must:

implement recommendations grounded in international law and standards aimed at putting an end to human rights violations and ensuring that they never recur. Unless the Libyan authorities demonstrate real political will to reform laws, policies and practices and to address the legacy of gross human rights violations, there is little hope for the establishment and consolidation of a "Libya of tomorrow" based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.

AI's findings were partially based on a visit to Libya last year, the first such visit to the country since by AI since 2004.

The report also echoed concerns about use of the death penalty, which AI expressed earlier this month when it condemned the recent execution [press release; JURIST report] of 18 people, including foreign nationals, in Libya. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] issued a similar report [text; JURIST report] last December finding that Libya is making strides towards greater transparency and acknowledgment of human rights but that it still has a long way to go. Both Libya and Italy were criticized by an HRW report [materials; JURIST report] issued last September, which found that Italy systematically forces migrants to return to Libya where they face human rights abuses without screening them for possible asylum claims.