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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Libyan High Court strikes down anti-free speech law

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This just in from Reuters:
TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's Supreme Court scrapped a new law that criminalized the glorification of ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi or his supporters on Thursday after opponents argued it violated freedom of expression.

A lawyer who appealed against the measure said the ruling was an important step in ensuring democratic freedoms weeks ahead of the country's first free elections since last year's war ended Gaddafi's 42-year autocratic rule.

The Supreme Court had agreed to review the constitutionality of Law 37, which was passed by the ruling National Transitional Council last month.

The law sparked outrage among civil groups and legal experts. It prescribed prison sentences for the glorification of Gaddafi as well as for publishing news "harming the February 17 revolution".

"In the name of the people, the court has decided to accept the appeal of Law 37 of 2012 as it is unconstitutional," judge Kamal Bashir Dahan said in a brief hearing on Thursday.
Appealing lawyer Salah Al-Merghani welcomed the decision, which came before the country heads to the ballot box on July 7 to elect a national assembly, paving the way for a new constitution.

"This law is unconstitutional as it prevents the freedom of speech. We are nearing elections and a basic step is to ensure there is freedom of speech," he said.

On May 5, 2012 Human Rights Watch called upon Libya to Revoke Draconian New Law:
(New York) – Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) should immediately revoke a new law that bans insults against the people of Libya or its institutions, Human Rights Watch said today. The law also prohibits criticism of the country’s 2011 revolution and glorification of the deposed former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The law violates Libya’s provisional constitutional covenant and international human rights law, both of which guarantee free speech, Human Rights Watch said.

“This legislation punishes Libyans for what they say, reminiscent of the dictatorship that was just overthrown,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “It will restrict free speech, stifle dissent, and undermine the principles on which the Libyan revolution was based.”

This high court ruling represents another great stride for the Libyan Revolution and another set back for anti-interventionists turned counter revolutionary who like repeating themselves about how Libya has no functional judiciary and enjoyed pointing to law 37 as an example of dictatorship returning to Libya.

Poll Shows 97% of Libyans Support the Revolution!

From the Libyan Rorschach, June 13, 2012:
Using a bright blue pen, the young man behind the cash register in the kebab shop on the outskirts of Tripoli began to methodically scratch out the face of Muammar al-Qaddafi from his stack of one-dinar notes. About halfway through the pile, he greeted a bill that had already been defaced with a happy nod and smile of satisfaction. After exhausting the one-dinar notes he turned to the 20s, and began surgically excising a miniature Brother Leader from a summit group photo.

Prior to February 17, 2011 everything in Qaddafi’s Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was physically painted a shade of light green to symbolize the political system of stateless government laid out in the Brother Leader’s Green Book. (The term jamahiriya was coined by Qaddafi and is usually loosely translated as “state of the masses” or “peopledom.”) Today, the country is awash in the red, green and black tricolor scheme of the pre-Qaddafi era Libyan flag, which has been adopted by the revolutionaries as their standard. In Tripoli, where several neighborhoods had loyalist rather than revolutionary reputations, these coats of fresh paint and the common practice of doctoring car license plates to cover the word jamahiriya might raise an eyebrow. But what of the kebab seller’s currency handiwork, which appeared to be a private act of conviction?

From the outside, the picture in Libya looks unremittingly bleak. A near daily chronicle of rampaging militias, conflict and chaos headlines coverage by the wire services. But perhaps a casualty of the closure of foreign bureaus and the lesser interest that exists when no U.S. boots are on the ground, some perspective is lacking from the often barebones news reports.

Eight months after the brutal death of Qaddafi marked the end of the civil conflict that followed Libya's popular uprising, support for the regime change appears to have if anything grown. Even if some of this backing falls into the "everyone loves a winner" category, a full 97 percent of Libyans surveyed by Oxford Research International in January thought the revolution was absolutely or somewhat right.

But is the mere fact of the revolution being broadly popular enough to make it right? Is it a sufficient platform to produce a secure and brighter future for Libya?
So 97% of Libyans support the "regime change" that just took place in Libya. What percentage of the US left opposed it? How many in the US left could care less what the Libyan people wanted and preferred to cling to the romantic legends spun for them by "Brother Leader." What percentage was willing to overlook the 1996 massacre of 1270 prisoners in Abu Salim prison and many, many other atrocities against the Libyan people to preserve there illusions, What percentage of the US left is going the same thing now as the Syrian people are being slaughtered by another "anti-imperialist" dictator?
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

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