Thursday, 18 April 2013

Libya: Amendment draws criticism

The amendment to the Constitutional Declaration which was finally approved by the Congress on 9 April by 144 votes and which allowed for the ring fencing of the Political Exclusion Law has prompted no small degree of controversy inside Libya. The amendment that was aimed at ensuring that the law could not be overturned by the country's judiciary at appeal given that so many judges would be directly affected by the legislation, has drawn severe criticism from human rights groups and the judiciary itself.

The reaction is hardly surprising. The amendment included a new paragraph that was added to Article 6 of the Constitutional Declaration (which states that “Libyans shall be equal before the law”), stipulating that it would not be considered a breach of the declaration to “prevent certain individuals from taking up sovereign positions and leadership jobs in the state for a temporary period of time according to a law that will be issued to that effect and that does not breach human rights.” A change was also made to Article 2 of the declaration ruling that the minimum number of votes required to pass the political exclusion law is 101.

The Libyan Observatory for Human Rights condemned the amendment immediately, describing it as "an unprecedented violation of the rights of citizens to appeal against laws that would affect their lives or violate their rights". Some Libyans pointed out that Libya has ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that such an amendment runs counter to this international treaty. The country's judges were also outraged by the move which directly undermines them.

However, such is the pressure on the congress to pass the law, that it clearly concluded it had no option but to prevent its being sabotaged by the judiciary.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focusand Libya Politics & Security.

© 2013 Menas Associates

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