Source: Amnesty International
Libya today is no longer the pariah state it was not so long ago, when gross violations of human rights took place against the backdrop of UN, EU and US sanctions against the country, which was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the USA until 2006. There is no doubt that the climate of fear and repression that prevailed in Libya for more than three decades is subsiding gradually, and that some Libyans are now more willing to take risks – albeit modest and within limits – to speak out about issues that affect their everyday lives.
LIBYA’S ETHNIC MAKE-UP
“Libya has a population of about six million Libyan nationals, plus a large but unknown number of foreign nationals mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa and neighbouring North African countries. The Libyan authorities argued in their submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2003 that all Libyans are of a “common racial origin, all profess Islam and speak Arabic”. The state report added that: “The fact that all Libyan citizens share a common origin, religion and language has undoubtedly been a determining factor in the absence of racial discrimination in the country”. Groups based abroad, such as the Libyan Working Group; the Tabu Front for the Salvation of Libya; and the World Amazigh Congress disagree with this assessment and argue that the Libyan Nationality Code is inherently discriminatory in defining citizenship as “Arab”. Such groups also complain that the Amazigh language and culture is not recognized and that obstacles prevent the Amazigh community from preserving their language and culture. For example, Law No. 24 of 1369 prohibits the usage of languages other than Arabic in publications; official documents; public spaces; and private enterprises. Additionally, Article 3 of Law No. 24 prohibits the use of “non-Arab, non-Muslim names” as determined by the General People’s Committee. The law provides no opportunity for parents to appeal against the decision of the General People’s Committee.”
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