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The international outcry at a Libyan court's decision last month (19 December) to sentence six health workers to death has incensed the Libyan government, prompting accusations of 'dangerous' Western political interference.

But politicians have played a small part in the protest, which has been largely driven by the international scientific community — a neutral body that defends universal and fundamental values, says an editorial in Nature.

These include the basic right to a fair trial, where scientific evidence is taken into account.

But other issues must also be considered, says the editorial. For example, it calls on the international community to strengthen efforts to help treat HIV-infected children in Libya, reiterating the humanitarian value of alleviating this problem.

It also highlights the lack of internationally recognised precautions to make treatment procedures safer. Everyone has a right to safe health care, says the editorial, yet many nations have inadequate resources and are forced to re-use medical supplies, increasing the risk of widespread HIV infection.

Link to full editorial in Nature