This report is based primarily on a three-week visit to Libya in April-May 2005. The Libyan government provided access to top-level officials, including the General Secretary of the General Peoples Congress (Prime Minister), the Secretary of Public Security (Interior), the Secretary of Justice, the Deputy Secretary of Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation (Foreign Affairs), the General Prosecutor, the Director of the Prison Authority, and the head of the Internal Security Agency. The organization also met judges, lawyers, police officials, immigration officials, academics, journalists, and charitable organizations.
Human Rights Watch visited five prisons, known as rehabilitation centers, and interviewed thirty-two prisoners and pre-trial detainees of its choice in one-on-one settings. Libyan officials guaranteed that none of the individuals who spoke with Human Rights Watch would suffer any repercussions for sharing their views.
Human Rights Watch had a much more difficult time speaking independently with Libyan citizens or foreigners in Libya. The delegations host, the General Peoples Committee for Public Security, insisted that representatives of the office escort the delegation at all times, and explicitly said the government must arrange all meetings. In one case, the police arrested a Liberian man one hour after he spoke with Human Rights Watch without prior permission. The police released the man the next day after Human Rights Watch complained, and assured the organization that they had arrested him because he did not possess the proper residency permit, which was the case. But Human Rights Watch believes his arrest was due to his having spoken with the organization. The individual has since left Libya because he felt monitored and under threat.