By Nihal Zaroug.
Tripoli, 8 December:
Non-governmental organisations, Lawyers For Justice in Libya (LFJL) and H2O Team, are holding independent cross-nation constitutional awareness bus tours, aimed at informing the public and creating debate on the upcoming drafting process of Libya’s constitution.
LFJL began “Rehlat Watan: Journey of a Nation” in Benghazi on 21 November and plans to visit more than twenty towns. The “Destoori: My Constitution” team has been on the go ever since and has visited nine towns, of which have been Beida, Kufra, Toubrak, Shahat and Soussa, Jalu, Misrata and Ajdabiya.
At each stop, Deestori guides and volunteers hosted events for locals, such as holding town hall discussions, visiting schools, hospitals and shopping areas. The team provided information on concepts of rights and freedoms, and answered questions regarding the content of the constitution. Protections afforded by the new constitution were of broad interest, for instance while in Kufra, the Destoori team met with members of the Tebu and Zway, where a discussion on equality rights was held.
Other towns voiced apprehensions regarding educational, economic and social rights, concerns surrounding natural resources, housing and healthcare, and most notably demand for government accountability.
All the information gathered on peoples’ concerns and demands during the campaign will be presented to the Constitutional Drafting Committee, “to ensure that the expectations of Libyans will be considered”, states LFJL.
H2O Team’s “Des-Tour” plans to visit over 60 towns as part their bus tour and have already visited many towns in western Libya. Similar to LFJL, a main task of the programme is data collection. However for H2O, it is the voice of youth they wish to amplify, and so have focused primarily on this group, which represents about 18 percent of Libya’s population. After interactive events with locals, a questionnaire is provided to gauge what youth want in the new constitution.
The Legislative Committee of the National Congress has stated that input from the general public is needed but has not devised a method to involve citizens in the debate, nor a concrete mechanism for the selection of the constitution drafting committee itself. It is initiatives by H2O Team, LFJL, and other civil society groups that can help until plans are implemented for the constitutional building process.