By Libya Herald reporter.
Tripoli, 26 November 2015:
In an Orwellian move, the culture ministry of the government of Khalifa Ghwell in Tripoli . . .[restrict]has told civil society organisations that members cannot attend conferences or workshops outside the country without its prior approval.
The announcement, dated yesterday and mirroring the Qaddafi regime’s diktats, is unlikely to be taken seriously. The Tripoli government, like that in Beida, is almost powerless in such matters. Almost every week, Libyan civil society activists take part in meeting and workshops in Tunis, many organised by UN organisations.
However, the possibility that militias in the capital will use the decree to target activists cannot be discounted in the increasingly politically chaotic situation.
Libyan NGO activist and founder of New Libya Foundation Rihab Elhaj told Libya Herald that ‘‘this proposed policy runs against a central principle in democracy: freedom of association. The right is recognized by all (real) democracies and is included in articles 20 and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’’, she stressed.
‘‘Telling civil society that they need government clearance to pursue their organized activities is plainly a practice in dictatorship’’.
” Should the government feel threatened by the activities of freely organized groups, they ought to seek public consultation on proposed solutions to grievances (in the case of a democracy)”.
”Reverting to authoritarian means may provide temporary gains, but comes at the price of legitimacy, and the public agency required for any meaningful state-building efforts ”, concluded Elhaj.