Country Scores

Political Rights: 7
Civil Liberties: 7
Status: Not Free
Population: 6,300,000
Capital: Tripoli

2008 Key Developments: In November 2008, government forces clashed with members of the southern Tabu tribe, resulting in significant loss of life and property. Libya's generally poor human rights performance showed no signs of improvement during the year, and warmer relations with the United States and Europe appeared to dim prospects for concerted international pressure on the issue of political reform.

Political Rights: Libya is not an electoral democracy. Power theoretically lies with a system of people's committees and the General People's Congress, but in practice those structures are manipulated to ensure the continued dominance of Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, who holds no official title. It is illegal for any political group to oppose the principles of the 1969 revolution, although in recent years market-based economic changes have diverged from the regime's socialist ideals. Political parties have been illegal for over 35 years, and the government strictly monitors political activity. Organizing or joining anything akin to a political party is punishable by very long prison terms and even the death sentence. Corruption is pervasive in both the private sector and the government in Libya.

Civil Liberties: There is no independent press. State-owned media largely operate as mouthpieces for the authorities, and journalists work in a climate of fear and self-censorship. The government controls the country's only internet service provider, and closely monitors internet activity, blocking opposition sites and punishing those who criticize of the state. The government closely monitors mosques for Islamist activity, although the small number of non-Muslims in Libya are permitted to practice their faiths with relative freedom. Academic freedom is tightly restricted. The government does not uphold freedom of assembly. Those demonstrations that are allowed to take place are typically meant to support the aims of the regime. Forced disappearances are routinely employed by government forces to detain individuals indefinitely without charge. The law allows for the establishment of nongovernmental organizations, but those that have been granted authorization to operate are directly or indirectly linked to the government. There are no independent labor unions. The People's Court, infamous for punishing political dissidents, was abolished in 2005, but the judiciary as a whole remains subservient to the political leadership and regularly penalizes political dissent. Women enjoy many of the same legal protections as men, but certain laws and social norms perpetuate discrimination, particularly in areas such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance.

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