Amnesty criticises Libyan human rights

While Kadhafi appears to be mending ties with Europe, Libya continues to violate basic human rights and a “climate of fear” persists in the country according to the human rights watchdog.

“Libya is at a crossroads. There is an urgent need to establish the truth over past events and for the Libyan authorities to commit to domestic reforms to address current abuses,” Amnesty said.

Amnesty notes positive measures such as the freeing of up to 300 prisoners in 2001 and 2002 and a new openness to international monitoring.

But the group said “a climate of fear” still reigned in the country.

“Today, a pattern of human rights violations, witnessed over the past three decades, repeats itself, often under the new rhetoric of the war against terror.”

The publication of the report, “Libya: Time to make human rights a reality,” came the same day as a scheduled groundbreaking visit by Kadhafi to the Belgian capital.

The Libyan leader is scheduled to meet European Commission President Romano Prodi, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and European commissioners to discuss issues related to Libya’s moves to end its status as an international pariah.

Amnesty called on European leaders to send a strong signal to the visiting Libyan strongman to bring his country closer in line with EU standards on human rights.

“It is time to turn promises into action and make human rights a reality,” the group said.

“Although abolition of the death penalty is promised, capital punishment remains prescribed and used for a large number of offences including the peaceful exercise of political activities,” said Amnesty.

Amnesty’s report is based on a February 2004 visit to Libya, the first in 15 years, in which the group was given unprecedented access to authorities and prisoners.

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