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Interior Ministry urged to reverse decision restricting right to peaceful demonstrations

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, July 15, 2012 - ANHRI expressed concern over a release issued by the Libyan Ministry of Interior, which bans organizations from holding demonstrations or participating in them without prior permission from the Ministry.

ANHRI said: "This statement is a blatant infringement of the right to peaceful assembly, which the Libyan authorities have to guarantee for their citizens, especially following the great revolution that took place in the country."

Late on Friday, July 13, 2012, the Ministry of Interior issued a release stating, "all Libyan citizens, bodies and civil society organizations are hereby alerted to the fact that they cannot organize or participate in any demonstrations without prior permission from the ministry." The statement further noted "the violators, who organize the demonstrations, whether they are individuals, bodies or civil society organizations, will be deemed responsible for any chaos, disorder or any security breach which may occur as a result."

Previously, on May 2, 2012, the Libyan authorities issued law No. 37 of 2012 which criminalizes certain forms of political expression, including the "glorification of the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi and his sons", "did damage to the revolution of February 17," or insulted Libyan institutions. On June 14, 2012, a Supreme Court judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it placed restrictions on freedom of expression.

ANHRI said: "These attempts to restrict freedom of expression and the infringement of the right to peaceful assembly and demonstrations are a step backwards for Libyan society and a disruption of the democratic process. . . . Such tactics bring to mind those of the Gaddafi reign, which was marked by a widespread attack on the freedoms of the people of Libya and the violation of their rights, the most important of these being freedom of expression and peaceful protest."

The organisation pointed out that "There is a big and clear difference between an attempt to regulate the implementation of constitutional rights and an attempt to abuse these rights. The Interior Ministry release can only be interpreted as an attempt to infringe and restrain freedoms, not an attempt to regulate."

ANHRI called on the Ministry of Interior, to immediately withdraw the release and all it entails, as it represents a clear violation of the freedom of the Libyan people, who finally had a taste of it, after decades of deprivation and repression.

ANHRI stressed the need to abolish all restrictions on the freedom of opinion and expression and called for the removal of any obstacles that would prevent the exercise of the right to peaceful demonstration, which the Libyan people fought for.

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