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Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 02:10 GMT 03:10 UK
Libya 'right for human rights job'
Seif al-Islam Gaddafi
Libya 'has a poor human rights record'

The son of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has defended Libya's much-criticised nomination as chair of the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, the UN's main human rights monitoring body.


We can work with this commission to enhance the situation of the human rights in the Middle East

Seif al-Islam Gaddafi
The nomination has drawn criticism from the US and western human rights groups.

The younger Gaddafi, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, heads a charity foundation which he says is independent of his father's government.

He said in an exclusive BBC interview that he supported the move for his country to head the UN Commission on the unusual grounds that Libya had a bad human rights record.

'Embarrassment'

It is Africa's turn to nominate the chair of the UN Human Rights Commission and the African Union - a continent-wide body largely financed by Colonel Gaddafi - had put forward Libya's name.

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi
Libya could be serious about trying to change his image

Colonel Gaddafi's son defended the move for Libya to head the commission.

"We have a bad record regarding human rights in this region in general... not just Libya but in all the Third (World) countries and in particular in the Middle East," he said.

"It's a good time now to have a country from this region in that position because... it's an embarrassment to those countries because they are violating the human rights.

"We can work with this commission to enhance the situation of the human rights in the Middle East," he added.

Protests

The argument seems to be that although Libya has a bad record on human rights its heading of the UN Commission could embarrass regional governments into cleaning up their act.

The nomination has brought howls of protest from the US and lobby groups like the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

They said Libya was in no position to judge the human rights of others when it was hiding its own violations.

It is also ironic that Africa should be pushing Libya's case when just two years ago, thousands of black African immigrants were the targets of racially motivated violence in Tripoli and when many were unceremoniously deported from the country.

However, it is also possible that Libya is serious about trying to clean up its image.

It recently mended some diplomatic fences with Britain and the fact that Libya is at least airing human rights issues may be another part of this charm offensive.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mark Doyle
"Colonel Gadafi's son concedes that Libya has a bad human rights record"
See also:

22 Aug 02 | Africa
20 Feb 02 | Middle East
07 Aug 02 | Middle East
11 Jul 02 | Africa
09 Jul 02 | Africa
03 May 01 | Americas
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