Libyan human rights situation still 'dire'
Sydney Morning Herald
In recent years Libya has transformed itself from a pariah state into a full member of the international community - yet campaign groups continue to describe the country's human rights record as "dire".
Only a few years ago Libya was under UN, European Union and US sanctions but it is now an active player in international affairs and in May this year was elected to the UN Human Rights Council.
The British government has strengthened ties in matters of security, migration and trade. And last year trade between the two countries was worth a total of STG1.5 billion ($A2.42 billion).
Human rights groups say despite all this, serious human rights violations continue, with state security agents responsible for torture and unlawful killings enjoying total impunity.
The case of Henry Djaba, a businessman who was detained for almost six months after being snatched off the street in Tripoli, is only rare in that he is a British citizen.
And it is perhaps his British passport which saved him from becoming another victim of a permanent disappearance.
Amnesty International is one of the campaign groups to have documented continuing human rights abuses in Libya.
Such abuses are often carried out at the hands of a security force with unchecked powers to arrest and detain people incommunicado with no access to lawyers.
Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa deputy director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said: "Libya's international partners cannot ignore Libya's dire human rights record at the expense of their national interests.
"As a member of the international community, the Libyan authorities have a responsibility to respect their human rights obligations, and tackle their human rights record instead of concealing it.
"The contradiction of Libya being a member of the UN Human Rights Council, while refusing permission for the body's independent human rights experts to visit the country is striking."
Libya was shunned by the international community over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.
But Tripoli formally took responsibility for the incident in 2003, and months later renounced weapons of mass destruction, allowing the country to return to the international fold.
Britain and Libya signed a controversial prisoner-exchange agreement in 2009, paving the way to the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi.
He was freed after he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer
Libya possesses large reserves of oil and gas and in July this year BP confirmed it was about to begin drilling off the Libyan coast.
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