The Libyan government has taken some important steps to improve human rights, including the recent release of 14 political prisoners, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday. But the Libyan government continues to hold political prisoners, conduct unfair trials, and severely restrict free speech and association, HRW said in its report.
“We welcome Libya’s first steps toward reform,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch who visited Tripoli this week to present the government with the report. “But the government has a long road to travel before it meets the international standards of human rights.” Despite improvements, the government continues to violate fundamental human rights, Human Rights Watch says. It bans non-sanctioned political groups, independent media and genuine nongovernmental organizations. It has arrested peaceful government critics and detained them in violation of Libyan and international law, sometimes using torture to extract a confession. The fate of many political prisoners remains unknown. “We spoke openly with the Libyan government about our concerns,” said Roth. “We disagree on many substantive issues, but they are willing to listen and discuss.”