Population: 6,600,000
Capital: Tripoli

Political Rights: 7
Civil Liberties: 6 ↑
Status: Not Free

Ratings Change: Libya's civil liberties rating improved from 7 to 6 due to increased academic and media freedom, as well as greater freedom of assembly and private discussion, following the rollback and collapse of the highly oppressive Qadhafi regime.

Ten-Year Ratings Timeline for Year under Review
(Political Rights, Civil Liberties, Status)
Year Under Review2002200320042005200620072008200920102011

2011 Key Developments: Influenced by uprisings in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt and spurred by the arrest of a human rights activist in Benghazi, citizens in several Libyan cities took to the streets in February 2011 to protest the 42-year rule of Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. The protesters soon faced violence from regime loyalists and security forces, and a civil war began in the country within days. By March, a NATO-led campaign of airstrikes was under way to aid civilian protesters and rebel militias in their battles against al-Qadhafi's military. Rebels captured Tripoli in August, and al-Qadhafi, having fled the capital, was eventually killed near his hometown of Sirte in October. A National Transitional Council (NTC) that had formed in rebel-held Benghazi in February moved to Tripoli toward the end of the year, but it had little effective control over the country's array of locally organized militias.

Political Rights: Libya is not an electoral democracy. Severe repression under al-Qadhafi has given way to an absence of formal governance institutions and frequent skirmishes among autonomous militias. The NTC, an unelected body of about 50 members, nominally controls all aspects of the national government. It is responsible for maintaining order and stability throughout the country in preparation for elections in mid-2012 and the drafting of a constitution. The 2011 uprising created somewhat more space for free political association and participation in Libya. Under the Qadhafi regime, political parties were illegal, and all political activity was strictly monitored. The NTC has made an effort to include representatives from across the country and from different backgrounds. However, only a handful of political parties have organized, including the Democratic Party of Libya and the New Libya Party.

Civil Liberties: Under the Qadhafi regime, state-owned media largely operated as mouthpieces for the authorities, and journalists worked in a climate of fear and self-censorship. The media environment in rebel- held areas was decidedly different, especially in the eastern cities. Some 130 print outlets representing a wide range of viewpoints had been registered with the NTC by July, and several radio and television stations had been established. In addition, many individual Libyans utilized the internet and social-networking platforms during the year to share information. The Qadhafi regime closely monitored mosques for signs of religious extremism and Islamist political activity, but Muslims of various religious and political strains have been much more free to organize and debate their points of view since his fall. In some cases this has led to verbal and armed clashes. Academic freedom was tightly restricted under al-Qadhafi. Close state supervision has been lifted since his ouster. However, no laws have been drafted to guarantee academic independence, and the education system has yet to resume normal operations in all parts of the country. Freedom of assembly has dramatically increased in light of the events of 2011, but the ongoing presence of militia groups and the proliferation of firearms in the country limited peaceful assemblies and the public expression of dissenting views in certain areas. The role of the judiciary under the NTC remains unclear. No legal framework or fully functioning courts had been established by year's end. Women enjoyed many of the same legal protections as men under the Qadhafi regime, but certain laws and social norms perpetuated discrimination, particularly in areas such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance.

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