Some rights progress seen in Libya

Dec. 12, 2009 at 6:38 PM
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TRIPOLI, Libya, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The human rights record of Libya shows some limited improvement but repressive laws and abuse remain a problem, an international group says.

A report released by Human Rights Watch Saturday says journalists have been allowed some freedom to write openly about sensitive subjects, but threats of lawsuits and prosecutions still stifle free speech in the country.

Libya's Justice Ministry has proposed revisions to the country's penal code reducing some penalties. They still retain laws that criminalize political speech, the report says.

Because of this, private newspapers and journalists for Web sites based abroad continue to refrain from direct criticism of the Libyan government, Human Rights Watch says.

On Monday, Jamal el Haji, a prominent critic of the country's leadership, was arrested after posting online criticism of the government's continued detention of political prisoners and denouncing Libyan government abuses in an interview with the BBC.

Human Rights Watch said the Iraqi government "should revise its penal code to allow all Libyans the freedom to have such public discussion without fear of criminal sanction, and stop jailing those who express criticism of the government, including Jamal el Haji."

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