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Libya Should Get Credit for Strides in Human Rights, Says Analyst

  • Peter Clottey

A political analyst says Libya has recently made significant strides in addressing human rights violations and described the latest Human Rights Watch report as “unfair”.

A political analyst says Libya has recently made significant strides in addressing human rights violations and described the latest Human Rights Watch report as “unfair.”

Libyan leader Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi’

Libyan leader Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi’

Sami Zaptia, also a Libyan economist, said President Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi’s government should be given some credit for its efforts at improving human rights.

“To be fair to Libya, " he said, "we are starting from a very low base, but when we take everything into consideration (the) facts are very clear that Libya has come a long way."

"Let me point to one very big example, the Busleem Prison case. Libya has done quite a lot, personally, with the leadership of Brother Saif Gaddafi, to open that file… this is something that in the old days would have never happened,” he said.

In its latest report, Human Rights Watch stated that while limited improvements are being made, repressive laws continue to stifle free expression and association, and abuses by the Internal Security Agency remain the norm.

But Zaptia said the government has made significant strides.

Human Rights Watch released its latest world report.

Human Rights Watch released its latest world report.

“Let me give you another fantastic and unprecedented example, Mr. Dogha. [He's] a prominent opposition member [who was] regularly in the media harassing and haranguing Libyan authorities. Who would have believed that today, Dr. Saif appoints him the head of Al Ghud group [of newspapers]?” Zaptia asked.

The rights group’s report also called on President Gaddafi’s government to "immediately release unjustly detained prisoners, reveal the fate of disappeared prisoners, provide justice to the families of victims of the killings of 1,200 inmates in 1996 in Abu Salim Prison [in Tripoli] and reform laws that criminalize free speech and association."

Zaptia said many Libyans are expressing their opinions contrary to the report.

“To be fair, in the age of the satellites and the internet, if [governments] don’t give people [a way] to express their ideas, [they] will circumvent the official avenue. We’ve seen [already that there is a] group [that] has established its own set of newspapers, its own television station. And many, many citizens go directly to the internet to air their views, to debate, [and] to discuss,” Zaptia said.

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