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X. Freedom of the Press

“Freedom of opinion is guaranteed within the limits of public interest and the principles of the Revolution.”
—Libya’s Constitutional Proclamation of December 11, 1969

The government runs and strictly controls all media in Libya.  Some publications and programs gradually have started to address topics previously considered taboo, such as cases of police abuse, prison conditions and legal reform, and journalists are slowly calling for more freedom to do their work.  But the government still monitors and controls all content, and it allows no unsanctioned criticism of its work or personalities.  Private media is not allowed.

The government’s argument, repeated many times to Human Rights Watch by officials and editors of the major newspapers, is that Libyan citizens can freely express their ideas and opinions within the Basic People’s Congresses.  The Jamahiriya system puts the government in the hands of the people and, therefore, the media belongs to them.

“Freedom of decision making is a step further than freedom of expression,” one justice official said.  “It is not just freedom of expression but the right to make decisions and laws.”115

According to the editor of a main daily newspaper, Al-Jamahiriya, free expression does not exist in other countries “because the media is owned by companies or individuals” who have their own interests.  “Nationalizing the media to the people through the People’s Congresses gives them freedom of expression,” he said.116

“You look at the private media, and you consider it free.  And in Libya it looks like the papers are state-owned,” said the editor of another daily paper, al-Shames.  “But we are not papers for the officials or the People’s Congress.”117

Despite these claims, a review of the main newspapers, the state-run television and the state-run press agency JANA during Human Rights Watch’s visit in April-May 2005, as well as subsequent monitoring of these media outlets’ websites, reveals a largely subservient and uncritical press that glorifies the government and Mu`ammar al-Qadhafi.118  The media addresses sensitive topics like police abuse or improved relations with the United States only after they have been identified as acceptable for debate, often by al-Qadhafi himself.  Criticism of the Jamahiriya system is unknown.

In addition, the government has imprisoned journalists and others who have expressed critical views.  As documented above, the Internal Security Agency arrested and continues to detain Fathi al-Jahmi, after he gave interviews critical of al-Qadhafi to the international media.  In January 2005 Internal Security Agency forces arrested an Internet writer named `Abd al-Raziq al-Mansuri, apparently due to his critical postings to a website based in the U.K.119 

The government’s strict control of the media contradicts Libya’s obligations under international law.  Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ratified by Libya in 1986, guarantees, “[e]very individual shall have the right to receive information,” and that “every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law.”120

Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Libya is a state party, sets out the minimum international standards for freedom of expression.  It states: “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference; Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”121

Freedom of expression “carries with it special duties and obligations,” and therefore may be subject to restrictions, but only “for respect of the rights or reputations of others; for the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health and morals.”122  All restrictions must be “provided by law” and be “necessary” to attain the purpose in question.123  Restrictions must never exceed the specific purpose served or be so loosely formulated as to “put in jeopardy the right itself.”124   The “special duties and responsibilities” to which article 19(2) refers may justify intervention by the state to ensure diversity of opinion and information and to prevent the formation of media monopolies. They may not, however, be invoked by the state as an excuse for imposing top-down controls over the media.125

Applicable Libyan law does not meet the international standard.  The country’s Constitutional Declaration of 1969 includes a broadly worded limitation clause that opens the door to abuse. It states: “Freedom of opinion is guaranteed within the limits of public interest and the principles of the Revolution.”126  The Great Green Charter for Human Rights passed in 1988 does not explicitly enshrine the principle of free speech or the right to information.  Law 20, On Enhancing Freedom, adopted in 1991, states that “every citizen has the right to openly express his thoughts and opinions in the Peoples’ Congresses and in the Jamahiriya media” unless “he uses [that right] in violation of the people’s authority or for personal motives.”127

The two exceptions to the state’s control of the media are satellite television and the Internet.  Satellite programs, especially Arabic news channels like al-Jazeera and al-Arabiyya, are widely watched.  Despite government efforts to block some independent and opposition websites, Libyans gained access to a wide spectrum of uncensored news and views with the proliferation of the Internet in the late 1990s.

The Print Media

Libya has four main daily newspapers and dozens of other papers and periodicals of various sizes publish around the country.  Each of the twenty-six governorates (sha`biyyat)128 has a local paper or magazine, as does every professional union and most research centers and university faculties.  Some companies have bulletins.  Some foreign publications are available, but the government occasionally restricts their distribution when articles critical of the Libyan government appear.

The print media is governed by the Law on Publications, No. 76 of 1972, as modified by Law 120 of 1972 and Law 75 of 1973.  It reserves all publishing rights to two state entities, the General Corporation of Press, Professional Unions and Syndicates and Ad-dar al-Jamahiriya for Publishing, Distribution and Advertising.  According to the government, article 1 of the law allows citizens to express and disseminate their views, “within the framework of the principles, values and objectives of society.”129

Up until mid-2005 the state-run Ad-dar Al-Jamahiriya for Publishing, Distribution and Advertising ran all newspaper and magazine distribution.  In early May 2005, the company closed, and various newspapers are attempting to establish their own distribution systems, including the possible formation of a joint company.  Like many aspects of Libya’s economy, the newspaper distribution system is transitioning slowly into private hands.

According to newspaper editors in Tripoli, legal experts currently are reviewing the Law on Publications.  Official journalists and writers unions are also working on reform proposals, although their views on possible changes are mixed.

According to `Abd al-Razaq Mas`ud al-Dahash, editor-in-chief of the daily al-Jamahiriya, a new law is needed to oblige the government to provide journalists with information.   “Currently there is no problem with the flow of information,” he said, “but we do need to establish it legally.” He explained, “The journalists are requesting such a law because we want a stronger law that obliges the government to reply [to our requests for information].”130

At a meeting on June 16, 2005, the Libyan Journalists Union called for a review of media laws.  According to the official JANA news agency, after praising the Great Jamahiriya and al-Qadhafi, the group “called for the review of laws organizing journalists and media work, which are no longer relevant to the aspirations of Jamahiriya society, such as Publications Law number 76 from 1972.”131

Later that month, the head of the journalists union, Muhammad al-Bussifi, resigned.  In a letter he sent to the U.K.-based website Libya al-Youm (Libya Today), he said one of the reasons for his resignation was the government’s unwillingness to change the laws governing media, as well as its refusal to allow an independent journalists organization.  He was also waiting for approval to issue a new newspaper called “The Time,” he said.132

The Qadhafi Foundation has also called for changes to the law.  In a 2003 statement, the foundation said that Law 120 (1972) and Law 75 (1973) unduly restrict the Law on Publications to the point that, “it is not permitted for normal individuals to publish private newspapers.”  The foundation called for “the immediate release of a new publications law.”133

The editor-in-chief of the daily al-Shames, however, expressed concern that a new law would weaken journalists’ access to information, although he did not elaborate on that concern.  “The publishing law is old but good.  It has lots of privileges, and we are afraid we will lose them,” Jumma` al-Mirghany said.  “We have participated in a number of discussions, and we are concerned the law will get worse.134

These and other editors said that although citizens occasionally sued their publications for libel, this was not a problem that infringed on their work, and they had no complaints about the applicable law.  In such cases, the libel charge goes first to a body called the General Committee of Journalists Responsibility, which is composed of journalists and lawyers.  The committee hears the complaint, reviews the material and tries to achieve reconciliation.  The deputy head of the journalists union, `Abd al-Salam Uwair, is the committee’s head.  The complainants typically are private citizens and sometimes companies or businesses.  None of the editors knew of cases when a government official had sued.

The print media in Libya is primarily run by the Libyan Press Corporation (LPC), which was established in 1993.135  It publishes at least seven periodicals, including three of the four main daily newspapers, al-Jamahiriya, al-Shames and al-Fajr al-Jadid.

According to the general director of the LPC, Dr. Abadin al-Sharif, the corporation reports to the Public Institute for Jamahiriya Media.  This body “does not devise our policies,” al-Sharif said.  “Our policy is drawn on our political ideology, general thinking and Islamic traditions.”136

The LPC is a state institution, he said, but 90 percent of its funding comes from advertising.  It is run by a board of directors, which includes the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Media at al-Fateh University, Head of the Journalists Union, Head of the Writers Union, editors of nine newspapers and the General Director of the LPC.

The LPC’s main task is to publish a number of newspapers and magazines.  These are:

  • Al-Shames – daily newspaper  (

  • Al-Jamihiriyya – daily newspaper (

  • Al-Fajr al-Jadid – daily newspaper (

  • Al-Fajr al-Jadid – bi-monthly English version of Al-Fajr al-Jadid (

  • Al-Jamihiriyya al-Yom – daily, web only (

  • Kol al-Fonun – bi-weekly newspaper? on sports and arts (

  • Al-Biyt – monthly magazine on family  (

  • Al-Amal – monthly magazine for children (

  • Africa al-Jadida – monthly magazine on Africa, temporarily suspended (

    According to al-Sharif, the LPC does not interfere in the work of its various publications.  “They are all independent—I cannot interfere,” he said.

    The three newspaper editors Human Rights Watch met in May 2005 complained of a shortage of newsprint.  The problem began in spring 2004, they said, and has sharply curtailed their print-runs.

    Al-Jamahiriya Newspaper

    Al-Jamahiriya newspaper is one of the main daily papers, presenting a combination of news and opinion.  It has a staff of approximately 100 people, among them thirty journalists.  Foreign correspondents are based in Cairo, the West Bank, Algeria and Tunisia.

    According to the paper’s editor-in-chief, `Abd al-Razaq Mas`ud al-Dahash, the paper seeks financial independence.   Government support does not exceed 20 percent of the paper’s budget, he said.  Half of the paper’s income comes from advertisements and half from sales.137

    As of May 2005, al-Jamahiriya’s print-runs were down due to the lack of paper.  From a normal daily run of 30,000, al-Dahash said, the paper was printing between 5,000 and 6,000 copies per day, and sometimes up to 10,000.  He claimed that more than 130,000 people visit the paper’s website every day.

    Citizens have occasionally sued the newspaper for libel, although none of the paper’s journalists or editors has been imprisoned on this charge.  “I don’t know of any journalist in Libya imprisoned for this,” al-Dahash said.

    Al-Shames Newspaper

    Al-Shames newspaper publishes a collection of news and opinion daily.  According to the editor-in-chief, Jumma` al-Mirghany, the paper is independent and focuses primarily on social affairs.  He said:

    Some believe we are a government paper, and they think our main job is to defend the state.  But I think our paper is different because we are a social paper, owned by society.  We report violations, and the government responds.  We visited Jdeida prison and we have requested to visit Abu Salim.  We have a department to receive complaints from prisoners.  We have published interviews with prisoners and officials.138

    The paper’s staff includes about 114 people, with thirty-four journalists in the office and thirty-eight correspondents around the country and abroad, including reporters in Malta, Kiev and Yemen.  Due to the newsprint deficiency, the daily print-run is down from approximately 15,000 to 4,000.

    Al-Shames also aims for financial independence, al-Mirghany said, because “good journalism requires self-funding.”  The paper currently costs approximately 1.5 million dinars per year to publish (roughly 1.16 million U.S. dollars).  A small percentage comes from the state, and the rest comes from ads.

    The newspaper has been the subject of libel cases from citizens, he explained.  “There are many libel cases.  I go to court almost every week.  It is companies mostly, plus individuals and institutions.  In the last year, we faced three cases… I’ve been here for five years and we have not lost any case up to now.  Sometimes we seek to reconcile through the General Committee of Journalists’ Responsibility.”

    Al-Zahf al-Akhdar

    Al-Zahf al-Akhdar, (, is a publishing house run by Libya’s Revolutionary Committees Movement, the ideological organization that promotes the values of the al-Fateh Revolution and al-Qadhafi’s Green Book, rather than the LPC.  It publishes books, a monthly magazine and a series of specialized periodicals, but the main publication is the daily newspaper Al-Zahf al-Akhdar (“The Green Sweep”).  Rather than hard news, it focuses on analysis and themes.

    The editor of the paper, Dr. Hamid Abu Jumaira, was upfront about the publication’s role as a supporter of the Jamahiriya political system.  “Our role is mainly awareness and education to support the Third Universalist Theory,” he said.  “We are like nuns and priests: our role is to preach and educate.”  He continued, “You might call this paper an official paper but we don’t think so.  We call it the paper of the believers in a certain kind of society.”139

    Financing comes from the Revolutionary Committees Movement, Dr. Jumaira said, but the paper tries to support itself through advertisements and some subscriptions.  The print-run as of May 2005 was approximately 10,000 per day for the newspaper, and 6,000 monthly for the magazine.

    Over the past two years, the Revolutionary Committees Movement has suspended the newspaper twice, prompting concerns that the government closed the paper due to articles it did not like.140  It remains unclear if government authorities had approved the articles in question and then punished the paper after a backlash, or if the paper’s editors independently strayed from the ideological line. Dr. Jumaira, a political science professor who was hired as editor after the second closure, explained that the Revolutionary Committees Movement had closed the paper because it had strayed ideologically.  “I call my era a return to old values,” he said.

    The first closure came on October 13, 2003, when a court ruled that some articles in the paper “had harmed the national interest and constituted an offence to the Great Jamahiriya’s orientations and its civilized information address [civilized communication means].” The court claimed the articles were “a premeditated attempt by some writers to harm the Great Jamahiriyah’s relations with several fraternal and friendly countries.”141

    According to one media account, an article in question had ridiculed Bahrain and Kuwait.  Bahrain could not be considered “a state, a half-state or even a quarter-state,” the article reportedly said.  And Kuwait was a “topographical error, which has never been corrected.”142  The court’s decision came during a period of tension between Libya and other Arab countries.

    The second closure came on January 26, 2004, when a court suspended the newspaper for one week for publishing articles that “call for the return to obsolete and failed ways renounced by the Libyan people.”143

    According to foreign press reports, al-Zahf al-Akhdar had been encouraging domestic reform to match Libya’s new international approach, such as giving compensation to the victims of the Lockerbie bombing and renouncing WMD.  A December 23, 2003, editorial entitled “Let’s Put Order in the House,” for example, called for reform in the economic and administrative sectors.144  On January 22, 2004, an article called for Mu`ammar al-Qadhafi to formally become president of the state.

    Under the headline, “The Time for a Libyan President Has Come,” the paper wrote that al-Qadhafi was a “cavalier, who came on his green horse… to set the worn-out state on fire and turn it into a revolution feared by the enemies and rejoiced by friends.”  He succeeded, the paper said, and now “it has become essential that the rules of the game change in order to keep up with the reality of world developments....If that was the time of revolution, it is high time now for the state and for the fighting cavalier, who led the revolution, to get off his horse to build up a state and be its president.”145

    The editor of the paper, Dr. Jumaira, told Human Rights Watch that this article calling on al-Qadhafi to become president reflected a “perverted ideology” and was the culmination of various writings that had betrayed the values the paper serves.  “We were banned by the Revolutionary Committee,” he explained.  “It was self-punishment when they felt the paper had drifted off course.”  He told Human Rights Watch:

    We cannot publish a paper that violates its principles… There were some articles in which it could be understood that some people wanted to change the Jamahiriya system, so we had an evaluation to devise a plan whereby the paper served the Jamahiriya system and did not oppose it.

    Broadcast Media

    There are no privately owned radio or television stations in Libya.  The electronic media is run by the Libyan Jamahiriya Broadcasting Corporation, whose website describes itself as “the largest and main news provider in Libya.”146  The government strictly controls programming to promote government successes and stifle dissent.

    Most Libyans get their news from satellite television, which is widely available.  Satellite dishes are ubiquitous throughout the country.  In June 2005, a satellite program from London called al-Democratia broadcast the first-ever political debate between a prominent defender of the government and an activist in the political opposition.  The government position was represented by Dr. Rajab Budabbous, General Director of the Jamahiriya Academy, prominent member of the Revolutionary Committees Movement, former Secretary of Propaganda and a leading ideologue of the Green Book.  The opposition member was Muhammad Buisiar, a former political prisoner who lives in the United States.  The lively and frank debate was followed widely by Libyans in Libya and abroad.147

    The Internet

    The Internet has proliferated rapidly in Libya over the past five years.  Internet cafes are common in cities and towns, and access at home is growing.  Websites covering political, economic and social issues in Libya, as well as human rights, have grown steadily in countries abroad and are viewed at home.  According to one report, close to one million people in Libya had used the Internet by 2004—roughly 17 percent of the population.148

    At times, the Libyan government has tried to block some of the sites based abroad.  When Human Rights Watch visited Libya in April-May it tried without success to access some popular websites.  Two sites, Libya: News and Views (at the time and Akhbar Libya (, could not be accessed from two Internet cafés in Tripoli.149

    According to the editor of Akhbar Libya, Ashur Shamis, hackers he believes to be from the Libyan government have crashed his site at least four times over the past three years, most recently on June 13, 2005.  “They unpublished all the articles on the site and wiped out the archive material,” he said.  “They did a lot of damage to the database.”  The site had a back-up and was running again within twenty-four hours.

    According to Shamis, the reason for the hacks “has always been something we published that hit a raw nerve with the leader or the security people.”150  Among other topics, the site has published articles on the 1969 military coup—claiming that al-Qadhafi hijacked the coup with tacit U.S. approval—and a series of articles on corruption in al-Qadhafi’s entourage, especially when he travels abroad.

    Sites like Akhbar Libya, Libya Our Home (, Libya al-Youm ( and Libya: News and Views ( provide a vibrant debate on topics previously taboo.  Articles and letters from Libya talk about problems with unemployment, health care and sometimes human rights issues such as torture and police abuse.

    In 2005, the government is known to have arrested one Internet journalist.  His case is described below.

    Treatment of the Foreign Press

    There are very few foreign correspondents based in Tripoli; of the major international media, only al-Jazeera, the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, BBC and Reuters have a permanent presence.  These agencies must register with the Foreign Press Office, run by Jumma` Abu Khar.  Permission is required for these correspondents to travel outside of Tripoli.

    Libyan authorities monitor the coverage of Libya in the foreign press closely, and they sometimes register complaints to news outlets about their reporting.  There are no reports of the government expelling a foreign correspondent in the past two years.

    Journalists wishing to visit Libya reported great difficulty in obtaining a visa.  When they do get permission, they are assigned a local guide who accompanies them during their stay and, most reporters believe, report their activities to the government.  Journalists who have visited Libya say that Libyans often are scared to give critical opinions in the presence of guides, or even to journalists who are alone.  Human Rights Watch observed similar self-censorship and sometimes outright fear in some of the people it met during its mission in April-May 2005.

    Article 28 of the Law on Publications states that every foreign publication must be approved by the government’s Publications Department before distribution.  According to the government, the department can withhold permission if the publication is found to be “prejudicial to national or Arab unity or religious beliefs, incompatible with the principles and objectives of the Revolution or public morals, detrimental to public security or fallacious to such an extent as to confuse public opinion.”151

    Journalist Arrested

    In 2005, the Libyan authorities are known to have imprisoned one journalist, `Abd al-Raziq al-Mansuri, who contributed to a website based in the United Kingdom.  Al-Mansuri’s arrest occurred on January 12, 2005, when agents of Libya’s Internal Security Agency arrested him in his home town of Tobruk.  He had recently written articles critical of the Libyan government on a U.K.-based website, but Libyan security officials told Human Rights Watch his arrest was unrelated to his journalistic work.

    Al-Mansuri’s arrest was first publicized by Reporters San Frontières, which announced on March 30 that security forces had arrested the “cyber-dissident.”152  Based on this information, Human Rights Watch requested to see al-Mansuri during its April-May 2005 mission to Libya.

    Internal security officials delivered al-Mansuri to Abu Salim prison while Human Rights Watch was inspecting the facility and interviewing other prisoners.  In a private interview conducted in the prison director’s office, al-Mansuri confirmed that he had been arrested on January 12, and claimed that he had been held in incommunicado detention since that time.153

    According to al-Mansuri, fifty-two years old and divorced with four children, internal security forces arrested him with a search warrant and confiscated his computer, floppy discs, CDs and papers.  At the internal security headquarters in Tobruk, they questioned him about articles he had written for the website, based in the United Kindgom.  They got another warrant to search his home the next day, he said, and found an old pistol that had belonged to his father and twenty-five bullets that, he claimed, he had found on the beach while fishing.

    On January 14, the authorities took al-Mansuri by car to the Internal Security Agency’s Department of Terrorism and Heretics (zandaka) in Tripoli.  Most of the interrogation, al-Mansuri said, was about his articles.  Al-Mansuri said he received clothes from his brother approximately three weeks later but he never met him or anyone else from his family.  Around April 14, the authorities transferred him to the internal security office in the Fashlum neighborhood of Tripoli, where security officials interrogated him again, both day and night.  During his entire time in detention, he said, the authorities forbade him from seeing a lawyer, and they did not file any charges against him.

    Libya’s Internal Security Agency chief Col. Tohamy Khaled told Human Rights Watch that he was responsible for al-Mansuri’s arrest.  “This man was not arrested for an article or the Internet or the radio; he can work for twenty years,” Col. Khaled said.  “He was arrested because he had a gun without a license.”  Internal security officers rather than police were holding al-Mansuri, he said, because a weapon is “a job for internal security.”154

    According to al-Mansuri, he had written between forty and fifty articles for since 2004.  “I’m studying Libyan people and life from all sides,” he told Human Rights Watch in English.  “Why a Libyan has a beard, why they are maybe scared from someone, and why it’s not time for democracy in Libya.”  He added: “What we want for Libya is that it becomes a better place, even through writing.”

    Al-Mansuri’s last article before his arrest was posted on January 10.  Entitled, “Will the Key-Holder Come Soon to That Hall in Sirte?,” the article was a subtle critique of a debate between two government officials, the reformer Shukri Ghanim and the hardliner Ahmad Ibrahim, and expressed hope that al-Qadhafi would support the former.155

    In early August, Human Rights Watch received reports that al-Mansuri had fallen from his top bunk in Abu Salim prison, breaking his pelvis.  Prison authorities reportedly transferred him to the prison’s medical facilities, where he apparently did receive the attention he required.  On August 9, 2005, Human Rights Watch wrote to the General People’s Committees for Public Security and Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation to obtain more information, but as of January 10, 2006, the government has provided no information about al-Mansuri’s case or health.156

    On October 19, Akhbar Libya reported that a Tripoli court had sentenced al-Mansuri to one-and-a-half years in prison for the illegal possession of a weapon.157

    Journalist Killed

    One journalist was killed in 2005, and the government’s involvement remains unclear.  The victim was Daif al-Ghazal, a thirty-one-year-old journalist who had been active in the Revolutionary Committees Movement and had written for the committee’s al-Zahf al-Akhdar.  He reportedly become disenchanted with the committee and began writing critical articles for a website based in the United Kingdom, Libya Jeel, which also ran on another site, Libya al-Youm.  In particular, he had written about corruption in the movement.

    Late in the evening of May 21, al-Ghazal was driving with a journalist friend Muhammad al-Mirghani in Benghazi, the editor of Libya al-Youm said, when two armed men allegedly from the Internal Security Agency took him from the car and told his colleague to leave.158  The authorities found al-Ghazal’s decomposing body with signs of torture and a gunshot to the head on the outskirts of Benghazi on June 2.

    The Libyan government denied any involvement in the crimes.  “It’s too early to make any judgments regarding the identity of the culprits, especially since the victim had a good reputation,” said Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Khazaali, the head of security in Benghazi. “We, in cooperation with all of the security apparatuses, are seriously trying to find the culprits.”159

    The Secretary of Justice blamed the abduction and murder on unknown kidnappers who posed as security personnel.  “We deny any link with this incident,” he told the press.160

    On June 5, the official journalists union issued a statement warning against “jumping to conclusions” before the investigation was complete.  The union, which reportedly had previously withdrawn al-Ghazal’s membership because of his critical writings, offered its condolences to the family and said it trusted the integrity of the investigation.161  The head of the union, Muhammad al-Bussifi, resigned later that month, saying the union had issued the statement while he was out of the country.162

    According to Sulaiman Dugha, editor of Libya al-Youm, al-Ghazal was formerly important in the Revolutionary Committees Movement but he had recently become critical of the committees.  “I will be back if I am still safe,” al-Ghazal reportedly wrote in two articles before his death.163

    According to another editor at Libya al-Youm, al-Ghazal had been writing articles critical of the Revolutionary Committee for the past year, and he had issued an appeal to Libyan intellectuals to form a committee against corruption.164

    On June 6, Human Rights Watch wrote to the General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation requesting information about Daif al-Ghazal’s death, noting that while the circumstances of his death remained unclear, the organization was concerned that he might have been punished on account of his writing, especially his criticism of corruption in the revolutionary committees.165  As of January 10, 2006, the government had not replied.

    In August 2005, Seif al-Islam al-Qadhafi told a journalist from al-Jazeera that the government had arrested two men in connection with al-Ghazal’s death.  He said:

    In the case of Daif al-Ghazal, I responded to the call made by his family asking me to follow-up with the case. The case was difficult, complex, and very mysterious in the beginning. We were able to unravel it thanks to the Libyan security apparatus. The case is known now. The person who led the writer on is in jail now. The person who has killed and hid the body is known. The strings of the case are known now. The people have confessed. One said he led him on and another said he killed him. All of them are in jail now and will be tried. These actions are entirely unacceptable. I believe this is a clear sign for anyone who plans to kill and then blame the government for his wrongdoings.166

    [115] Human Rights Watch meeting with judges, prosecutors and legal experts, Tripoli, April 26, 2005.

    [116] Human Rights Watch interview with `Abd al-Razaq Mas`ud al-Dahash, editor-in-chief of al-Jamahiriya newspaper, Tripoli, May 9, 2005.

    [117] Human Rights Watch interview with Jumma` al-Mirghany, editor-in-chief of al-Shames newspaper, Tripoli, May 9, 2005.

    [118] The websites for most newspapers and Libya’s state-run broadcasting company are provided below.  The press agency JANA is at

    [119] In May 2005, unknown assailants abducted, tortured and killed the journalist Daif al-Ghazal, although the government denied any role in his death and claimed to have arrested the suspects (see below).

    [120] African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5, 21 I.L.M. 58 (1982), Adopted June 27, 1981, entered into force October 21, 1986. See, accessed September 29, 2005.

    [121] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), article 19.

    [122] ICCPR, article 19(3).

    [123] Ibid.

    [124] General Comment 10, Freedom of Expression (Article 19), para. 4, Human Rights Committee, 19th sess., 1983, in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.1, p. 11 (1994).

    [125] Manfred Nowak, U.N. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: CCPR Commentary (Kehl am Rhein, Germany: N.P. Engel, 1993), p. 350.

    [126] Constitutional Proclamation of December 11, 1969, article 13.

    [127] Law 20 (1991), On Enhancing Freedom, article 8.

    [128] The 26 governorates are: Ajdabiya, al-`Aziziyah, al-Fatih, al-Jabal al-Akhdar, al-Jufrah, al-Khums, al-Kufrah, al-Nuqat al-Khams, al-Shati`, Awbari, al-Zawiyah, Banghazi, Darnah, Ghadamis, Gharyan, Misratah, Murzuq, Sabha, Sawfajjin, Surt, Tarabulus, Tarhunah, Tubruq, Yafran, and Zlitan.

    [129] Libyan Arab Jamahiriya report to the Human Rights Committee, CCPR/C/28/Add.17, March 2, 1995.  The report is available at, accessed November 20, 2005.  Human Rights Watch asked for but did not receive a copy of the Law on Publications.

    [130] Human Rights Watch interview with `Abd al-Razaq Mas`ud al-Dahash, editor-in-chief of al-Jamahiriya newspaper, Tripoli, May 9, 2005.

    [131] “The Statement of the First Gathering of Journalists and Media Workers Association,” JANA news agency, June 16, 2005.

    [132] Libya al-Youm, June 21, 2005, see, accessed October 6, 2005.

    [133] Al-Qadhafi International Foundation for Charity Associations, “Reservations and Demands,” July 17, 2003.

    [134] Human Rights Watch interview with Joumma al-Mirghany, editor-in-chief of al-Shames newspaper, Tripoli, May 9, 2005.

    [135] The Libyan Press Corporation website is at, as of December 15, 2005.

    [136] Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. Abedin al-Sharif, general director of the Libyan Press Corporation, Tripoli May 5, 2005.

    [137] Human Rights Watch interview with `Abd al-Razaq Mas`ud al-Dahash, editor-in-chief of al-Jamahiriya newspaper, Tripoli, May 9, 2005.

    [138] Human Rights Watch interview with Jumma` al-Mirghany, editor-in-chief of al-Shames newspaper, Tripoli, May 9, 2005.

    [139] Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. Hamid Abu Jumaira, editor-in-chief of al-Zahf al-Akhdar  newspaper, Tripoli, May 9, 2005.

    [140] See Reporters san Frontières, “Government Daily Closed for a Week,” January 29, 2004.

    [141] “Libya: Court Suspends Publication of Al-Zahf al-Akhdar Newspaper,” BBC Monitoring Newsfile, translated from Libyan TV, October 14, 2003.

    [142] “Official Daily ‘Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar’ Suspended,” All Africa, October 16, 2003.

    [143] “Libyan Court Suspends Newspaper for a Week,” BBC Monitoring Middle East, translated from Great Jamahiriyah Radio, January 27, 2004.

    [144] “Pro-government Newspaper Nudges Reforms in Libya,” Panafrican News Agency, December 23, 2003.

    [145] “Libyan Paper Cited as Suggesting Libya Become State, al-Qadhafi President,” BBC Monitoring Middle East, January 27, 2004, translated from al-Hayat newspaper, January 25, 2004.

    [146] Website of the Libyan Jamahiriya Broadcasting Corporation,, accessed October 4, 2005.

    [147] A transcript of the debate is available at, accessed October 7, 2005.

    [148] “The Internet in the Arab World: A New Space of Repression?,” The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, June 2004, available at, as of October 4, 2005.

    [149] As of January 10, 2006, the Libya: News and Views website was at

    [150] Human Rights Watch e-mail from Ashur Shamis, June 15, 2005.

    [151] Libyan Arab Jamahiriya report to the Human Rights Committee, CCPR/C/28/Add.17, March 2, 1995.  The report is available at, accessed November 20, 2005.

    [152] Reporters San Frontières, “Cyber-dissident Reportedly Arrested in Tobruk,” March 30, 2005.

    [153] Human Rights Watch interview with `Abd al-Raziq al-Mansuri, Abu Salim prison, Tripoli, May 10, 2005.

    [154] Human Rights Watch interview with Col. Tohamy Khaled, Abu Salim prison, Tripoli, May 10, 2005.

    [155] For an English translation of the article and the original Arabic version, see the Reporters San Frontières website,, as of August 5, 2005.

    [156] Human Rights Watch letters to Mr. Saied Elsaoudi, Director General, General Relations and Cooperation, General People’s Committee for Public Security, and Mr. Ramadan Irhiam Director, General Department of International Organizations, General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation, August 9, 2005.

    [157] “Writer `Abd al-Raziq al-Mansuri  Sentenced to One-and-a-half Years,” Akhbar Libya, October 19, 2005.  See, accessed October 25, 2005.

    [158] “Libya Probes Death of Journalist Found Shot in Head,” Associated Press, June 6, 2005.

    [159] Ibid.  See also “Libya Finds Missing Newsman’s Body, Probes Killing,” Reuters, June 6, 2005.

    [160] “Libya Denies Hand in Dissident Newsman’s Murder,” Agence France-Presse, June 6, 2005.

    [161] “Libya Probes Death of Journalist Found Shot in Head,” Associated Press, June 6, 2005.

    [162] Libya al-Youm, June 21, 2005, see, accessed October 6, 2005.

    [163] “Libya Probes Death of Journalist Found Shot in Head,” Associated Press, June 6, 2005.

    [164] Reporters Without Borders, “Opposition Journalist Daif Al Ghazal Tortured to Death,” June 6, 2005.

    [165] Human Rights Watch letter to Mr. Ramadan Irhiam, Director, General Department of International Organizations, General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation, June 6, 2005.

    [166] “Libyan Leader’s Son on Call to Reopen Human Rights Files,” BBC Monitoring Middle East, August 25, 2005, translated from al-Jazeera program “Behind the News,” August 20, 2005.

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