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TITLE:  LIBYA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                             
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


The Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya is a 
dictatorship ruled by Major General (formerly Colonel) Mu'ammar 
Al-Qadhafi, aided by extragovernmental Revolutionary Committees 
operating at his behest.  The governing principles of the 
society are expressed in Qadhafi's "Green Book" rather than in 
a constitution.  He has created a political system borrowing 
from pan-Islamic and pan-Arab sources and purporting to 
establish a "third way" superior to both capitalism and 
communism.  In the past, he has used assassination and 
intimidation as ways to control his enemies abroad; at home he 
continues to use a variety of summary judicial proceedings to 
suppress any popular resistance.  Ethnic minorities, such as 
Berbers, are tightly controlled, and the Government continues 
its campaign against banned Islamic groups.

Libya maintains an extensive security apparatus, consisting of 
several elite military units, including Qadhafi's personal 
bodyguards.  The local Revolutionary Committees and People's 
Committees also have security functions, designed to monitor as 
well as protect the populace.  The result is multilayered, 
pervasive surveillance and control of individual activities.

Limited privatization continued in 1993, with government 
decrees legalizing private wholesale trade and the sale of some 
parastatal assets.  State domination of the economy is assured, 
however, by complete government control of Libya's rich oil 
resources, the principal source of foreign exchange.  Libya has 
used part of its oil income to finance internal development 
(new schools, hospitals, roads), but much has been wasted.  

There continued to be little change in the human rights 
situation in 1993, and most rights remain tightly restricted.  
There are no effective rights to freedom of speech, including 
expression of views opposing those of the Government, to 
peaceful association or assembly, to formation of trade unions, 
or to strike.  Citizens do not have the right to change their 
government.  Personal rights, such as the right to be 
considered innocent unless proven guilty, to a public and 
speedy trial, to legal counsel, to be secure in one's home or 
person, or to hold property, are also strictly limited.  

*Because the United States has no Embassy in Libya and because 
the regime strictly limits access to information, it is 
difficult to comment authoritatively on conditions in Libya.


Section l  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Opposition sources claim approximately 300 military personnel 
were killed in a failed "coup attempt" in mid-October.

A large number of offenses, including political offenses and 
"economic crimes," are punishable by death under Libyan law.  
For example, Law No. 71 of 1972 provides for the death penalty 
for anyone involved with any group activity based on any 
ideology opposed to the principles of the revolution.  Despite 
his longstanding stated intentions, General Qadhafi has not 
acted to abolish the death penalty for this offense.  To the 
contrary, in the September 1991 Consolidation of Liberty Law 
No. 20, Article 4 stipulates that the death penalty may be 
imposed on "those whose lives constitute a threat or cause 
depravity to society."

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearance in 1993 (but see Section 

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Although Libya is a party to the United Nations Convention 
against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment 
or Punishment, prisoners are reportedly tortured during 
interrogations or for discipline.  There were no confirmed 
reports of torture in 1993; it is impossible to say to what 
extent torture was used in 1993 because of the tight controls 
maintained by the Government concerning such information.  
Foreign workers, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa, have 
been the target of periodic detentions and alleged torture.  
Many prisoners are held incommunicado, which makes confirmation 
of torture difficult.

Methods of torture reportedly include:  chaining to a wall for 
hours, clubbing, electric shock, corkscrews in the back, lemon 
juice in open wounds, breaking fingers and allowing the joints 
to heal without medical care, suffocation using plastic bags, 
deprivation of food and water, and beatings on the soles of the 
feet.  Libyan law calls for fines against any official using 
excessive force, but there are no known cases of prosecution 
for torture or abuse.

In April General Qadhafi publicly called for a stricter 
application of Koranic law, or Shar'ia.  He criticized the 
leniency of judicial punishments, recommending legislation to 
mandate amputation for thievery and public whipping for 
adulterers.  There was no evidence that these recommendations 
were enacted into law.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Under Libyan law, detainees may be held incommunicado for 
unlimited periods.  Many political prisoners are held in 
unofficial detention centers, controlled by members of the 
Revolutionary Committees, where prolonged periods of 
incommunicado detention are common.  Many allegedly are held 
without charge or trial, apparently as an example to other 
would-be opponents of the regime.  There continued to be 
reliable reports that between 400 and 500 political detainees 
were still being held, most of whom were arrested after a 
limited amnesty was proclaimed in 1988.  Some opponents of the 
regime claim the Government repeatedly detains thousands more 
for periods too brief (3 to 4 months) to permit confirmation by 
outside observers.  While undergoing interrogation, sometimes 
for periods of several months, prisoners are given no access to 
legal representation.  Foreigners have also been subject to 
arbitrary arrest and torture.  There have been credible reports 
that some foreign workers in Libya have been forced into 
military training and military service on behalf of Libya or 
coerced into subversive activities against their own countries.

Exile is not a form of punishment practiced in Libya; to the 
contrary, General Qadhafi seeks to pressure Libyans working or 
studying abroad to return to Libya.  The regime does, however, 
arbitrarily expel noncitizens (see Section 6.e.).

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Most civilians are tried in regular courts, but their cases may 
be referred to less formal "people's courts" or to military or 
revolutionary courts, depending on the arbitrary decision of 
the security forces.  Security forces have the power to judge 
persons guilty without trial, particularly "traitors to the 
people."  Some trials are held in private or in the absence of 
the accused.

An 1981 law prohibits the private practice of law and makes all 
attorneys employees of the Secretariat of Justice.  Libya 
claims it "guarantees prisoners all necessary means of defense 
and safeguards of justice adequate to the principles contained 
in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and provides for 
legal assistance "as soon as possible with respect to the 
exigencies of interrogation."  This claim notwithstanding, 
there continued to be credible reports that these rights are 

Alleged political offenses have at times been tried before ad 
hoc revolutionary courts rather than by civilian courts, with 
opportunities to engage defense counsel severely restricted.  A 
number of these trials have been held in secret.  Despite the 
regime's announcement of their abolition in 1988, 
"extraordinary" courts are still in operation and have been 
publicly discussed in the case of Islamists.  Of the 400 to 500 
political prisoners believed to be held in Libyan prisons, most 
were never formally charged or tried.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The Government does not respect the right to privacy.  The 
legal requirement that judicial warrants be obtained before 
entering a private home is often disregarded.  Local and 
international telephone calls are routinely monitored.  The 
security agencies and the Revolutionary Committees oversee an 
extensive informer network.  Libyan exiles report that mere 
family ties to suspected regime opponents can result in 
harassment or even persecution and detention by the 
authorities.  Property may be seized and burned if it belongs 
to "enemies of the people" or those who "cooperate" with 
foreign powers.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The authorities tolerate some difference of opinion in People's 
Committee meetings and at the General People's Congress but in 
general severely limit freedom of speech.  This is especially 
true with regard to criticism of General Qadhafi or his 
regime.  Infrequent media criticism of regime members or 
policies is interpreted as orchestrated attempts to test public 
reactions or as efforts to weaken the popular support of 
General Qadhafi's potential challengers within the Government.

Political speech is repressed through legislation banning all 
political activities not sanctioned by the Government, 
including the nonviolent expression of conscientiously held 
beliefs.  The legislation that makes the dissemination of 
"hostile information" a crime is so all-encompassing that 
almost any form of expression may be deemed illegal.  Fear of 
being informed upon by elements of the Revolutionary Committees 
and an underlying climate of mistrust at all levels of society 
further inhibit freedom of speech.

Libyan media are owned and controlled by the State.  There is a 
state-run daily newspaper, with a circulation of 40,000.  The 
Revolutionary Committees publish several smaller newspapers.  
JANA, the official news agency, is the designated conduit for 
official views.  Publishing opinions contrary to government 
policy is not permitted.  Newsweek, Time, the International 
Herald Tribune, and Express Jeune Afrique are available but are 
routinely censored.  There are strict controls on foreign 
publications at the Tripoli airport.  Foreign broadcasts can be 

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Public assembly is repressed unless it is government controlled 
and supportive of regime positions.  The right of association 
is limited and granted only to institutions affiliated with the 
regime.  According to Law No. 71 of 1972, party activities 
constituting "treason" are punishable by death.  Offending 
activities include "any grouping, organization, or formation, 
of whatever kind or number, which is based on a political 
concept opposed in its aims to the principles of the 
Revolution."  Organizations such as independent trade unions 
and professional associations are viewed as unnecessary, since 
General Qadhafi has vowed not to "accept intermediaries between 
the revolution and its working forces."

In spite of these restrictions, worsening economic conditions 
and growing dissatisfaction with government performance 
prompted several informal protest meetings.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Libya is overwhelmingly Muslim.  In an apparent effort to 
eliminate all alternative power bases, the regime has banned 
the once-powerful Sanusiyya Islamic religious sect.  In its 
place, General Qadhafi established the Islamic Call Society 
(ICS), which became the outlet for state-sanctioned religion as 
well as a tool for exporting the Libyan revolution abroad.  In 
1992 the Government announced the disbandment of the ICS; 
however, recent public statements by the ICS suggest it remains 
active.  Islamic groups at variance with the state-sanctioned 
version are banned.

Members of some minority religions (e.g., Christianity) are 
allowed to conduct services.  Services in Christian churches 
are attended by the foreign community.  There is a resident 
Catholic bishop operating two churches with a small number of 
priests.  Nuns reportedly are permitted to wear religious 

General Qadhafi's domestic campaign against banned Islamic 
groups continued in 1993, with frequent arrests of suspected 
members and sympathizers and public denouncements of the 
groups.  There was one unverified report that General Qadhafi 
forced orthodox Muslims at one mosque to shave (as a form of 
public humiliation) after Friday services.  Those who refused 
were allegedly arrested.  A majority of the political detainees 
in Libya are reported to be associated with banned Islamic 

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

With the exception of security areas, movement is not usually 
restricted for Libyan citizens.  Traditionally, exit permits 
have been required for travel abroad, and currency controls 
have also served to restrict travel.  Women must have their 
husband's permission for them or their children to travel 

In 1991 Libya and Egypt agreed to allow the unrestricted travel 
of their nationals across their mutual border, and thousands of 
Libyans reportedly go back and forth regularly.  This travel, 
as well as travel from Libya to Tunisia, increased in 1993 as 
Libyans began to feel the full impact of the international air 
embargo.  However, the Libyan Government tightened border 
controls in October, apparently as a form of political 
retaliation against neighboring states for their enforcement of 
U.N. sanctions against Libya.

The Revolutionary Committees maintain surveillance of some 
Libyans while they are abroad.  Libyan nationals' right of 
return is theoretically fully protected, even for opponents of 
General Qadhafi.  However, this "right" may be more nearly an 
obligation; the regime often calls on students, many of whom 
receive a government subsidy, and others working abroad to 
return on little or no notice and without regard to the impact 
on their studies or work.  Libyans who study abroad are 
interrogated on their return home.  A number of Libyans, 
including most exiled opposition leaders, refuse to return.

Opposition activists claim Libyan agents in Cairo abducted, and 
possibly murdered, former Libyan Foreign Minister and prominent 
opposition figure Mansur Kikhya in December.  Qadhafi also 
called publicly for the murder of regime opponents.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The people of Libya have no right to change their government.  
Major government decisions are controlled by General Qadhafi, a 
few key associates, or by committees acting in his name.  He 
appoints military officers and official functionaries down to 
junior levels.  Power flows through a small circle of trusted 
associates.  Corruption and favoritism (partially based on 
tribal origin) are major problems, adversely affecting the 
efficiency of government.

Political parties and tribal or local groupings are 
prohibited.  Participation in elections is mandatory, and all 
candidates are approvedd by the Revolutionary Committees.  
Candidates may not be "merchants, contractors, tribal 
advocates, election brokers, officials of the former (pre-1969) 
government, or people who have been attacked by the power of 
the revolution."

Popular participation in government is theoretically provided 
by the grassroots People's Committees, which send 
representatives annually to the national General People's 
Congress (GPC).  In practice, the GPC is a rubberstamp 
assembly, approving all recommendations made by General Qadhafi.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

No independent human rights organizations are permitted to 
function.  The Libyan Arab Human Rights Committee, a government 
organization, was created in May 1989.  However, there are no 
reports of any activities by the Committee.

Libyan officials last met with Amnesty International (AI) 
representatives during a June 1988 visit.  Since then, the 
Government has repeatedly refused to reply substantively to 
AI's appeals on behalf of political detainees in Libya.  The 
Government did not respond to requests for visits by AI in 1993.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


Women's rights are restricted both by law and by the 
conservative Islamic attitudes of Libya's society.  There were 
credible reports in 1993 of women being harassed or briefly 
detained for their manner of dress or for approaching a man in 
public without a male escort.  

General Qadhafi has led efforts to improve the status of women 
and expand their access to educational and employment 
opportunities.  With some exceptions, women currently receive 
basic military training and are subject to the military draft.

No information is available on the extent to which violence 
against women is a problem in Libya.


The Government provides subsidized medical care and education, 
improving the welfare of children over the past 25 years.  
Declining revenues and general economic mismanagement, however, 
is leading to cutbacks, particularly in medical services.

Female circumcision, which has been condemned by international 
health experts as damaging to physical and mental health, is 
reportedly still practiced among tribal groups in remote areas 
of the south.  

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Arab-speaking Muslims of mixed Arab and Berber ancestry make up 
97 percent of Libya's population.  The principal non-Arab 
minorities are Berbers and blacks.  There are frequent 
allegations of discrimination based on tribal status, 
particularly against Berbers in the interior and Tuaregs in the 
south.  In past years, General Qadhafi sought unsuccessfully to 
assure that Berbers married only non-Berbers, presumably in an 
effort to erode their tribal identity.

In 1991 and 1992, the Government expelled thousands of black 
African workers from Libya under circumstances that appeared 
discriminatory (see Section 6.e.).  Other threatened 
expulsions, primarily directed at Tuaregs, appear intended to 
exert political and economic pressure on their nations of 
origin (see Section 6.e.).

     People with Disabilities

No information is available on the Government's efforts to 
assist people with disabilities or to indicate whether it has 
enacted legislation or otherwise mandated provision of 
accessibility for the disabled.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Workers do not have the right to form or join unions of their 
own choosing.  The official trade union organization, the 
National Trade Unions' Federation, which was created in 1972, 
is under government control and administered through the 
People's Committee system.  Every Libyan worker is required to 
join a trade union, but foreign workers are not allowed to 

Although unions are assured the right to "safeguard their 
interests," there is no right to strike, and no strikes by 
Libyan workers have been reported for years.  In a June 1992 
speech, General Qadhafi stated that workers have the right to 
strike but added that strikes do not occur in Libya because the 
workers are in control and "can change authority" any time they 
wish.  Despite this statement, no law authorizes workers to 

With government financing, the official trade union 
organization plays an activist role in the International 
Confederation of Arab Trade Unions and the Organization of 
African Trade Union Unity and exploits international trade 
union contacts to engage in propaganda efforts on behalf of the 
Government.  In November the Arab Maghreb Trade Union 
Federation (USTMA) suspended the membership of Libya's trade 
union organization.  The suspension followed reports that 
General Qadhafi had replaced all trade union leaders, in some 
cases appointing loyal followers without trade union 

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Although the Labor Code provides for collective agreements, 
with the stipulation that the validity of these agreements must 
be subject to government approval, there is no collective 
bargaining in Libya.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The comments from the 1992 report of the International Labor 
Organization's (ILO) Committee of Experts that "persons 
expressing certain political views or views ideologically 
opposed to the established political, social, or economic 
system may be punished with penalties of obligation to perform labor" 
remain unchallenged.  The same report noted that public 
employees in Libya can be imprisoned and sentenced to 
compulsory labor " a punishment for breaches of labor 
discipline or for participation in strikes even in services 
whose interruption would not endanger the life, personal 
safety, or health of the whole or part of the population."  The 
Government has repeatedly told the ILO's Conference Committee 
on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations that 
there have been changes in legislation that abolish these 
provisions, but no corroborating evidence has been submitted to 
the ILO.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum age for employment of children is 18.  Education is 
compulsory to age 15.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Libya maintains a work force of around l,120,000 workers (plus 
an additional 1.2 million foreign workers) in a population of 
4.4 million.  There is a legally mandated minimum wage, which 
is adequate to afford a worker and family a decent standard of 
living.  The legal maximum workweek is 48 hours.  Libyan labor 
law defines the rights and duties of workers, including matters 
of compensation, pension rights, minimum rest periods, and 
working hours.  A corps of labor inspectors, based in the seven 
municipalities of the country, are assigned to inspect places 
of work for compliance with legal standards, including 
occupational health and safety standards.  Certain industries, 
such as the petroleum sector, try to maintain standards 
originally set by foreign companies.

The labor law does not accord equality of treatment to the 
foreign workers in Libya, who do much of the blue-collar and 
technical work.  Foreign workers may stay in the country only 
for the duration of the contracts under which they are 
employed.  Foreign workers are subject to arbitrary pressures, 
such as changes in work rules and contracts, with little option 
but to accept or to depart the country, often without full 
compensation for work already performed.  Conditions of 
employment are subject to negotiation between the worker and 
the employer.  Foreign workers who are not under contract enjoy 
no protection.

In the spring of 1990, the Government began expelling thousands 
of black African workers, claiming they were in Libya 
illegally.  Chadians, Nigerians, Nigeriens, Malians, and 
Ghanaians were rounded up at their homes or work sites, 
detained for varying lengths of time, and returned destitute to 
their countries, usually with no warning to their governments.  
Press reports in several of these countries have carried 
unsubstantiated accounts of arbitrary detention and 
mistreatment of these workers by Libyan authorities prior to 
their expulsion, as well as of the disappearance of at least 16 
workers and the killing, probably extrajudicially, of 1 Malian 
laborer.  There were continued reports of expulsions in 1992, 
and many workers are reported to be detained under difficult 
conditions.  General Qadhafi reportedly threatened neighboring 
states in 1993 with mass expulsions of their nationals from 
Libya to exert economic and political pressure on those 
states.  In November he called for the expulsion of most of the 
25,000 Thai workers in Libya.  This was apparently in 
retaliation for the Thai Government's action to remove 
approximately 200 Thai workers from the Tarhunah chemical 
weapons project.  To date, the Libyan Government has taken no 
action against the Thai workers.

[end of document]


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