Reforms Versus Restriction in Freedoms
These well-known cases took place against a persistent background of the mistreatment of individuals, particularly members of Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. International human-rights organizations documented consistent mistreatment of those who were arrested, including the use of severe torture. Migrant workers especially were subjected to human-rights abuses.
The Gaddafi government repeated its commitment to the protection of human rights in the early 2000s. Two human-rights groups were established, the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations (1998) and the Gaddafi Foundation for Development. Both organizations were headed by Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, who carefully fashioned an image as a defender of liberty. He sponsored a visit to Libya by Human Rights Watch and intervened to have the Bulgarian nurses released and promoted an investigation into the Abu Salim massacre. But it became apparent that this was part of Saif al-Islam’s positioning himself to take over from his father, and the actual changes were few.
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