Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has declared Libya is committed to playing a major role in seeking to achieve world peace. He spoke Tuesday as he arrived at European Union headquarters in Brussels on his first visit to Europe in 15 years. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's visit to Brussels and his talks with European Union officials are the latest signs of warming relations with Western governments after Libya announced it was scrapping efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.
The talks coincide with the release of a new Amnesty International report which found the Libyan government continues to violate basic human rights including unfair trials, torture and a lack of free speech. However, Sara Hamood, a campaigner in the North Africa team of Amnesty International, said that with the visit of Moammar Gadhafi to Europe, Libya is at a crossroads.
"It can choose to really deliver on its promises to respect human rights," she said. "That is what we hope it will do now. In the context of Colonel Gadhafi's visit to Brussels we hope that the European Union will send a very strong signal that in the context of negotiations with Libya on partnership that they will from the outset insist that Libya not only talk the right talk, but also delivers on the promises that it has to respect human rights."
Ms. Hamood said that there have been some improvements in human rights in Libya in recent years, but more needs to be done.
"The country has begun to open up to some degree of international scrutiny," she added. "Other positive developments have been the releases in 2001 and 2002 of scores of political prisoners. So we see some movement, but what we are yet to see is the real institutional and structural reforms that is required to really make a tangible difference."
She said that the Human Rights organization was allowed to go on its first fact finding trip in 15 years to Libya in February, during which researchers were given good access to all level of authorities including Moammar Gadhafi.