Area: 1,759,540 sq.km
Type of state: unitary
Head of state: Col. Muammar Gaddafi
Since the United Nations lifted its sanctions against Libya in 1999 and especially since the 11 September attacks, Col. Muammar Gaddafi has stressed his desire to help the fight against terrorism. In September 2002, to try to win favour with the international community, the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Association (GDIFCA), headed by the leader’s son, Saif el-Islam Gaddafi, announced a campaign in favour of human rights and against torture. The Foundation’s director said complaints of torture had been received from a number of people and that the Foundation was pressing the courts to punish those responsible for it.
But despite the regime’s efforts to improve its image, press freedom was still non-existent. The written and broadcast media were completely controlled by the regime, with no criticism of Col. Gaddafi, the "Guide," allowed. The only window on the outside world was through the Internet and satellite TV, which were permitted. Visas for foreign journalists are rarely granted.
The GDIFCA announced in late August that 65 political prisoners had been freed and said the only prisoners left in the country were people "whose release would be a threat to society." But Amnesty International said hundred of political prisoners were still being held.
One of those not freed was Abdullah Ali al-Sanussi al-Darrat, of whom nothing has been heard since he was jailed without charge or trial since 1973. If still alive, he is the world’s longest-imprisoned journalist. When a Reporters Without Borders representative asked Gaddafi’s son at a Paris press conference on 27 February 2002 what had happened to him, he replied that he did not know a journalist was in prison and promised to look into the case. Nothing was subsequently heard from the GDIFCA.