Review from ROAPE Volume 23 Number 67
Human Rights and Reform (Waltz)
For a few years at the end of the 1980s and the very beginning of the 1990s, there seemed to be a real possibility of significant progress towards more democratic political forms and practices in North Africa. In Tunisia and Algeria in particular, the government responded to mounting popular protest (initially against the austerity measures imposed as a part of ‘structural adjustment’ and economic liberalisation, but increasingly against government policies more generally) with what were intended to be controlled political reforms. The governments of Morocco and Egypt, although both characterised by repression and human rights violations, emphasised their long-standing formal commitment to multi-party politics. Only in Libya was political opposition totally proscribed. In the words of Amnesty International, all opposition political activities including the non-violent expression of conscientiously-held beliefs, are strictly banned by law in Libya, and the punishment for opposition political activities includes the death penalty and life imprisonment.