|Tripoli– Libya’s Supreme Court on Thursday nullified a law passed at the start of May that banned glorification of the dead brutal dictator Gaddafi who was ousted from power and killed in last year’s uprising after more than four decades in power.
The decision that was made by the Supreme Court is considered to be a victory for new democratic Libya as it allows for free speech and freedom of expression.
In a brief hearing, the head of the Libyan court’s constitutional chamber announced “In the name of the people, the court has decided on the unconstitutionality of Law No 37.”
“Today, the Supreme Court of Libya has shown what freedom means,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
“By declaring this law unconstitutional, it has affirmed free speech for the Libyan people, even for critical and controversial views.”
This is the first judicial review of a law issued by the National Transitional Council (NTC), which has been governing Libya since March last year.
A group of Libyan lawyers challenged the law under the interim constitutional covenant, as well as international law. The presiding Judge, Kamal Edhan,declared the law unconstitutional, but added that the decision did not affect other pre-existing restrictions on speech, such as insulting Islam.
It followed an appeal lodged with the court by a Libyan human rights group against the May 2 law adopted by Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council, NTC, that drew criticism from a great majority of the Libyan people.
The text of the law had read: “Praising or glorifying Muammar Gaddafi, his regime, his ideas or his sons… is punishable by a prison sentence.”
Though not specified, under Libya’s penal code, the jail terms could range from three to 15 years
It had prescribed prison sentences for the glorification of Gaddafi as well as publishing any news “harming the February 17 revolution.”
The law as such was considered by Libyans as being not different from those laws made by the oppressive regime of Gaddafi which had zero tolerance to free speech and freedom of expression.
The Libyan people revolted last year in order to bring an end to all aspects of dictatorship.
Earlier this month, Libya’s Supreme Court agreed to review the constitutionality of the law after a lawyer, Saleh al-Marghani, told the court that Law 37 violated the basic freedoms of human rights and would help to damage freedoms in Libya.
“The law itself helps to glorify Gaddafi more than keep it in check. We ask the court to accept our appeal,” Saleh al-Marghani said.
One of the lawyers who co-authored the appeal against Law 37 was Jumaa Aatiyqa, a well known human rights who spent 12 years in the dictator’s prisons during the 1980s and 1990s.
Source- Tripoli Post