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Skip Navigation LinksPOGAR > Countries > Country Theme: Human Rights: Libya
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International Conventions

Libya has acceded to the seven major United Nations conventions on human rights, namely: the two International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights; on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1970), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1968), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1989), the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1989), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1993), and the Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (2004). Moreover, Libya has signed the first optional protocol attached to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights concerning filing complaints by individuals (1989), and the optional protocol of the convention on Eliminating All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (2004); and the two optional protocols of the Rights of the Child Convention concerned with the involvement of children in armed conflicts, sale of children, exploiting children in prostitution and pornographic materials (18/6/2004).

Libya has also acceded to the eight International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions on human rights, namely: the two conventions (87 and 98) on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining (2000 and 1962 respectively), the two conventions (29 and 105) on Forced or Compulsory Labour (1961), the two conventions (100 and 111) concerning the Elimination of Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation (1962 and 1975 respectively), and the two conventions (138 and 182) pertaining to Forbidding the Employment of Children and Minors (1975 and 2000 respectively).

Libya made reservations on certain provisions of the conventions it acceded to:
- The two international covenants: declared that acceding to the two covenants does not imply recognizing Israel or establishing any relations with Israel.
- The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination: general reservation stating that its accession to the convention does not imply recognizing Israel. Libya is not committed to article (22) pertaining to ways of resolving conflict among states over interpreting or implementing the convention.
- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women: article (2) on the obligation of states to integrate the principle of gender equality in their constitutions and national legislation, and guaranteeing actual realization of this principle. Libya said the principle would be applied according to Islamic law (Shari'a). Article (16/1) that commits states to take proper measures to eliminate discrimination against women in marriage and family affairs. Libya abides by women's rights guaranteed by Islamic Shari'a. Article (22) concerning the right of specialized agencies to send their representatives to the country in question to assess its commitment to the provisions of the convention.

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Regional Charters

Libya has agreed to the "Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam" issued in 1990 by foreign ministers of Muslim countries. The declaration is a guiding document that does not require ratification. Libya also ratified to the "Arab Charter of Human Rights/Amended" prepared by the Arab Summit in Tunisia in May 2004, which did not gain force yet. It also ratified the "African Charter for Human and Peoples' Rights (1986); The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of The Child (2003); the protocol on establishing the African Court for Human and Peoples' Rights; and the protocol on Women's Rights (2004).

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Human Rights Institutions

There are no independent non-governmental human rights organizations in Libya. However, there are some governmental structures and some organizations attached to the government that are concerned with women's issues, such as the Libyan Human Rights Committee. In December 1998, Al-Qaddafi International Association of Philanthropic Societies established a human rights organization that launched wide scale campaigns for the release of political prisoners. It succeeded in releasing large numbers of political prisoners under the "Waves of Freedom" campaign. It also launched an anti-torture campaign in Libya and the Middle East. It also visited detention centers and presented its recommendations on improving their condition.

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Achievements on the Road to Good Governance

1. Advancing women's condition through integrating them in all fields of development, increasing their participation in economic and social activities, and in the legislative system. Enabling women to work in all sectors, including the judiciary and armed forces. Women also occupy high level jobs. They are also employed in the diplomatic sector.
2. Taking steps towards enhancing justice in the judicial system by abolishing the "People's Court" (2005) that was under constant local and international criticism for lack of the prerequisites of justice in its procedures and for its very heavy sentences. Separation between the interior and justice ministries, and working on a new penal code.
3. Since 2001, the government pursued releasing large numbers of detainees and political prisoners successively. It issued in 2006 an amnesty for 132 political prisoners, some of whom were sentenced to more than 7 years in prison in an unfair trial for carrying out peaceful political activities.
4. In 2003 Libyan authorities lifted the ban imposed on thousands of Libyan citizens to leave the country. Libyan government is encouraging citizens living abroad to return to Libya by offering them guarantees that they would not be prosecuted after their return.
5. The General Popular Committee removed in 2005 the pre-condition of obtaining the approval of the Revolutionary Committees on sending public employees or students to work or study abroad. It also removed the pre-condition of obtaining the "Liaison Office" approval on appointing Libyan university professors and embassies' staff. These measures were taken in the context of restricting the power of Revolutionary Committees and their meddling in local affairs.
6. The General Popular Committee has adopted two resolutions in 2005. The first resolution asserts that public medical treatment and hospitalization are offered to citizens free of charge. The second resolution forbids health sector employees to work in both the public and the private health sectors at the same time.

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