The undersigned human rights groups announce the proposal of a new draft law regulating civil work in Libya; the proposed law would guarantee civil society’s independence and freedom. We call on Libya’s civil society organizations to review and adopt this proposal, and pressure for its swift approval. We welcome any comments, suggestions, or feedback to improve the draft law, and affirm the law’s commitment to international standards for freedom of association and peaceful assembly.
The undersigned groups are prepared for a public debate on the draft law through urgent hearings in which civil society organizations participate and review the proposed law and its explanatory memorandum. This represents a push for the immediate issuance of a law on associations that complies with international standards for freedom of association. The law would also represent a departure from the authoritarian practices under which civil society in Libya has been suppressed, despite the passage of over a decade since the revolution of the Libyan people for freedom and democracy.
The proposed draft law guarantees the independence of civil society organizations from the state and its administrative bodies. Currently, associations in Libya are struggling to unshackle themselves from the repression of the country’s governing authorities. This repression includes concerted efforts to nationalize civil society and deprive it of independence and freedom to work. Moreover, the draft law emphasizes the importance of the operational transparency of these organizations and their practices, including their activities and funding sources. The proposed law also requires the registration of associations and non-governmental organizations by notification only, and guarantees the freedom to work and form or join local and international networks and alliances.
The draft law is a culmination of Libyan civil society’s persistent efforts, ongoing since 2011, to push Libyan state institutions and successive governments to abandon Gaddafi’s authoritarian legal arsenal, especially the Civil Associations Law no. 19 of 2001, which is reflective of the perspective and policies of a dictatorship lacking in any consideration for freedoms and human rights.
Libyan civil society participated in the 2013 consultations with the Ministry of Culture and Civil Society to prepare a new draft law to regulate associations, yet the proposal arising from these consultations remains unknown, and has not yet been issued. In 2016, human rights organizations participated in the revision of the draft law on associations, which was proposed by the legislative authority at the time, and despite the submission of the revised version to the House of Representatives in 2017, which was entirely disregarded.
Nevertheless, the new proposed law on civil society differs from its predecessors in that it is subjected to scrutiny and examination by many legal experts, judges, and human rights defenders. The proposed law is the result of a meticulous study of experiences and legislation in the region and internationally, in regards to the regulation of civil society’s work. Thus the proposed law benefits from similar legislative proposals submitted by human rights organizations to ensure the independence and freedom of civil society in their countries.
16 organizations and 4 public figures submitted this proposed new draft law and are looking forward to presenting it before members of the House of Representatives and representatives of the legislative authority in Libya, with the aim of pushing for the issuance of a new law on associations. Under the proposed law, the tribulations of civil society in Libya would come to an end, ensuring Libyan associations’ ability to perform their role in monitoring and following up on public affairs within a just legal framework that guarantees the independence and freedom of civil society.
Accordingly, the signatory organizations renew their call for all Libyan organizations to review the proposed draft law and send their feedback on it, in order to partake in creating legislation that is based upon genuine consensus and guarantees the independence and freedom of civil society in Libya.
1. Defender Center for Human Rights (DCHR)
2. The Libyan Organization for Independent Media
3. Belady Center
4. The Independent Organization for Human Rights in Libya
5. Libya al-Moustakbal Center
6. Jurists Without Chains
7. The Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace
8. Adala For All
9. The Libyan Judges Organization
10. The Libyan Center For Freedom Of Press
11. Youth Organization for Tawergha
12. Libyan Network for Legal Aid
13. Al-Zawiya Center for Human Rights
14. Aman Organization Against Discrimination
15. Libyan Crimes Watch
16. The Libyan Group to Monitor Human Rights Violations
• Azza Maghur
• Salah Marghani
• Marwan Tashani
• Wael bin Ismail
 Defender Center for Human Rights, and Democratic Transition and Human Rights Support Center, organized a roundtable discussion during the period from May 16 to 18, 2016, to revise the draft law on associations. Participants: Salah Marghani, Azza Maghur, Ahmed Bouqba, Lamia Bousidra, Zahra’ Langhi, and Hisham al-Windi, with the participation of Parliament member Musab al-Abed, and member of the Constituent Assembly of Libya Abdel Moneim al-Sharif. The discussion benefited from some Arab expertise, such as: Magdy al-Tayeb and Mohamed Omran from Egypt, and Mokhtar Trifi, Abdel-Wahhab al-Harazi and Fadel Belbeesh from Tunisia. For more details, see: RoundTable Discussion: Towards civil society law in Libya – Experiences and challenges, June 28, 2016, https://daamdth.org/archives/248?lang=en