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Libya Table of Contents


Incidence of Crime

The Qadhafi regime has regarded crime as an anomaly in conflict with its revolutionary goals inasmuch as all Libyans are expected to contribute to the common good of society and its social, political, and economic advancement. During an earlier phase of his rule, Qadhafi deplored a pattern of increasingly unlawful behavior that included an unacceptable incidence of theft, violence, and traffic accidents. He had hoped to follow the British model of police officers enforcing public order with "a notebook, a pencil or a map to guide people, but not a gun or a stick." Instead, he lamented, he was obliged to depend on an armed police force because "the Third World will need another 500 years to understand that a policeman, even unarmed, must be respected."

Because meaningful data had not been available for many years, no up-to-date assessment of the extent and nature of criminal activity could be made in 1987. When last reported, statistics showed a high incidence of property theft and relatively fewer violent crimes, such as rape, manslaughter, and murder. A significant number of convictions were under the category of "crimes against freedom, honor, and the public," which could range from public drunkenness to student demonstrations and more serious political offenses. To judge from reports in the official press in the mid-1980s, the nation's economic strains were reflected in a growing number of cases of smuggling, illegally deposit of money abroad, bribery, and misappropriation of funds by public officials.

Corruption in government has been an abiding concern. In 1975 a tough new law made the acceptance of a bribe by a public official punishable by up to ten years in prison plus fines set at twice the amount of the bribe. A person proffering a bribe could receive up to five years in prison plus fines of up to LD500. According to press reports, verdicts handed down by people's courts involved relatively moderate jail sentences of one to two years but harsh fines of LD50,000 and more. An official found guilty of paying unearned overtime salaries to relatives and friends, however, was condemned to a ten-year prison term.

Data as of 1987