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HRW to mention Swiss hostages in Libya meeting

Human rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) will bring up the case of two imprisoned Swiss nationals when it meets with Libya’s justice minister, it has said.

“We will be able to speak with the justice minister today,” Heba Fatma Morayef, a researcher with the New York-based organisation, told the Swiss News Agency on Saturday.

The group has criticised the detention of Max Göldi and Rachid Hamdani on immigration violations, which it says are a reprisal for the detention of a son of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi 17 months ago.

HRW will request the “immediate release of the two unlawfully held Swiss detainees,” Morayef said.

The two men, who worked for Swiss companies, have been held since July 2008. They were sentenced to 16 months in prison by a Libyan court for visa irregularities and tax evasion on December 2.

HRW will hold a media conference in Tripoli on Saturday coinciding with the release of a report, entitled “Truth and Justice Can’t Wait”.

The group says that years after committing itself to reform, Libya continues to jail people for their political views.

HRW acknowledges that Libya has made limited improvements but that its human record remained out of step with the image of change it had presented since leader Gaddafi brought the country out of international isolation.

"Over the past decade Libya dramatically transformed its international status from a pariah state," said the report.

The report is based on a ten-day visit to Libya in April. and agencies