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Lawyers Were Among Protesters in Libya; Justice Minister Resigns

Posted Feb 22, 2011 10:24 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Updated: Lawyers and judges in Libya have joined the protests there, while the country’s justice minister has also taken a stand.

The justice minister, Mustafa Abud al-Jeleil, reportedly resigned to protest the government’s violent response to the demonstrations. Among the news outlets reporting the resignation are a newspaper with ties to the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and al-Arabiya television. The New York Times and the Sydney Morning Herald have stories.

The justice minister cited the “the excessive use of violence against government protesters” as the reason for his resignation, according to the National Post. Residents reported that scores of bodies lay on the streets of Tripoli following attacks by forces loyal to Gadhafi, the Associated Press reports. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for an end to “the unacceptable bloodshed,” while Gadhafi appeared on state television to dispute rumors that he had left Tripoli.

Judges and lawyers were among the protesters, the Associated Press reported on Monday. A witness told AP that about 200 lawyers and judges were protesting inside a Tripoli courthouse.

ABA President Stephen N. Zack has released a statement condemning the violence. Zack notes the ABA's longstanding commitment to advancing human rights and promoting the rule of law. "The violent response of the Libyan government to the current unrest in that country demonstrates continuing disregard for both of these fundamental principles," Zack says.

Hat tip to Legal Blog Watch.

Updated at 12:40 p.m. to include statement by ABA President Stephen N. Zack.

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