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Human rights, dissenters face uphill struggle in Libya

In a rare case brought against human rights activists, Libya’s Internal Security Agency accused seven activists of apostasy and contempt of Islam, resulting in condemnation by the United Nations and Amnesty International.
People wave flags and chant slogans during a gathering to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Arab Spring in Martyrs Square, Tripoli, Libya, Feb. 17, 2021.

Human rights violations, violence, forced disappearances, and murder have been a daily occurrence in Libya, without any accountability in most cases. Hundreds of activists, human rights campaigners, and lawyers, including women, have been killed or disappeared without a trace. Since the NATO-backed rebels took over the country in 2011, Libya has been unstable, lacking security while armed militias and gangs, unchallenged, roam most of the vast country. The situation is particularly worse in big cities like the capital Tripoli and Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city and the cradle of its 2011 revolt. 

Against that background, it was not unusual for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to call in a March 25 news brief on the Libyan authorities to stop the crackdown on “civil society in Libya, where arbitrary arrests and a campaign of social media vilification” are taking place.

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