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Libyan parliament passes new law regulating demonstrations

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 11 November 2012 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) expressed its deep concern over the decision of the Libyan National Conference (Parliament) to enact a law on the organisation of demonstrations and sit-ins. The law stipulates that protest organisers must obtain permission from the authorities and must inform them of the time and location of demonstrations, as well as take responsibility for maintaining order and security during the events.

The National Conference's law could significantly restrict freedom of expression and the tools that can be used to press authorities to grant the people their demands. The law stipulates that the organisation of demonstrations shall be in accordance with the constitution and shall not obstruct the work flow of public utilities.

The law further states that "the demonstration shall have an organizing committee composed of three people, the leader and two other members, who shall be listed in the security directorate where each demonstration takes place. The committee must maintain order during the protests, and ban any speech that violates public order or includes incitement to crimes." The law also stresses that protesters must hand in a written request to "the security directorate regarding where and when the protest is to take place, its itinerary and its end time, which must be within 48 hours."

The law also grants the authorities and other relevant bodies the right to amend the start and end time of demonstrations, as well as the location and itinerary, under the guise of putting the public's best interest first, maintaining security and looking out for the safety of citizens. The authorities are also permitted to terminate citizens' attempts at freedom of expression through demonstrations by dispersing and banning a demonstration when they deem it a disturbance to public security.

“Laws such as this restrict freedom of opinion and expression. It is natural that the authorities would ban demonstrations against government performance. Demonstrating is one of the main basic tools to press the government to respond to the requests of the people," stated ANHRI.

ANHRI calls for the removal of this law that places restrictions on protests.

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