Rights issues hang over Libyan campaigning

June 18, 2012 at 1:18 PM

TRIPOLI, Libya, June 18 (UPI) -- The future leaders of Libya need to ensure rights issues and concerns over torture are addressed if they hope to move the country forward, a rights group said.

Campaigning in Libya began Monday for the 200-member national assembly. There are more than 1,200 candidates from 142 registered parties and 2,501 candidates running as independents for a July 7 election.

Fred Abrahams, a special adviser at Human Rights Watch, said future leaders in Libya need to address human rights concerns in the country.

"Torture and illegal detention are an ongoing national crisis that Libya's future leaders need to address," he said in a statement. "Libyans deserve to know how the candidates for this landmark election will solve these serious problems and reform the justice system after decades of abuse."

Violence in Libya has resurfaced as the election draws near. Former rebels in May stormed government headquarters in Tripoli, though no injuries were reported.

Ian Martin, U.N. special envoy to Libya, said the escalation of violence in the country was a growing cause for concern.

"It is of the utmost importance that the government acts swiftly to de-escalate these conflicts and to ensure the protection and well-being of civilians," he said in a statement.

The July contest will be the first democratic election in Libya in a generation.

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