Tripoli, 13 February 2014:
Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) has denounced a Penal Code amendment that criminalised insulting the General National . . .[restrict]Congress (GNC), the government or judicial institutions.
Law No. 5 of 2014 also criminalised any action which could harm or prejudice the 17 February Revolution and made insulting the Libyan flag or the state logo a crime.
“This law is in direct conflict with freedom of expression provisions guaranteed by the Libyan Interim Constitutional Declaration and international human rights conventions to which Libya is a party,” LFJL said.
It expressed concern that such arbitrary restrictions to freedom of expression would have a detrimental effect on government accountability and result in the further curtailment of Libyan rights.
“The right to freedom of expression promotes the application of other human rights and helps improve government accountability,” said LFJL director Elham Saudi. “The right becomes worthless if it only protects certain forms of political expression deemed acceptable.”
She added that the criminalisation of critical expression was an extremely radical measure that was completely out of step with democratic values and Libya’s international law obligations.
Freedom of expression was an essential principle for the creation of a democratic society and to ensure the promotion and protection of other human rights, LFJL said.
“It is saddening that the GNC has failed to recognise this fundamental democratic right,” Saudi said. “We strongly urge them to reconsider these amendments.”