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Swiss grill Libya over human rights

Libya presented its report on human rights in Geneva on Tuesday, when Swiss authorities asked the regime to abolish the death penalty and permit more freedoms.

Dante Martinelli, Swiss ambassador to the United Nations, recommended that Tripoli nullify laws that criminalise freedom of expression. He also noted that “hundreds” of people are in “administrative detention” even though they have been acquitted or served their sentences.

A coalition of 30 NGOs led by UN Watch denounced the Libyan report before the UN Human Rights Council as an attempt by leader Moammar Gaddafi’s regime to “whitewash” its atrocities, including discrimination against women, attacks on migrants, torture, and the repression of journalists and dissidents. Other observers said the fact that the Libyan regime agreed to show up at all was a positive sign.

Martinelli said the Libyans must also accept a visit of a UN work group investigating arbitrary detention and guarantee the group access to all jails. He also denounced corporal punishment, such as amputations and flogging.

Other countries expressed concern over the plight of refugees and migrants seeking to leave Africa for Europe via Libya. Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, the Libyan deputy minister of foreign affairs, asked Europeans to share more of the burden in solving the issue.

“Libya, in a difficult geographical location as a transit country, is not Europe’s border guard,” he said.

Libya is free to accept or reject the recommendations made during the country’s universal periodic review. All 192 UN member states are required to have their human rights records scrutinised. and agencies

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