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Constitutional referendum must be fair, free and safe

3 August 2017

The Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA) has called for a referendum which will consider if its constitutional draft should become law. LFJL is concerned that security conditions and attempts to suppress media and civil society discussion may undermine the legitimacy of the constitution. To ensure that any constitution adopted reflects the will of the Libyan people the election law governing the referendum must guarantee their right to meaningful participation.

Comments on Libya's Draft Constitution: Updated Comments on the Prohibition of Torture and Ill-Treatment

26 July 2016


In April 2015, LFJL and REDRESS prepared a detailed legal commentary of the Constitutional Drafting Assembly’s December 2014 Constitutional Recommendations (the December 2014 Constitutional Recommendations) regarding their effectiveness in enshrining the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (torture and ill-treatment).

Since the publication of that commentary, the Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA) has been working to consolidate its draft recommendations into a final draft on which the CDA will find consensus. The CDA most recently published a draft on 19 April 2016 (the April 2016 Constitutional Draft), on which 34 CDA members voted in favour, and which has been referred to the House of Representatives. In this process, a number of the relevant anti-torture provisions contained within the December 2014 Constitutional recommendations have been amended.

LFJL and REDRESS have analysed the April 2016 Constitutional Draft and now provide the following additional recommendations on the new text. These recommendations are provided to the CDA with a view to ensuring that the future constitution of Libya, and its provisions on the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment in particular, are in line with international legal standards. Suggested drafting amendments for each recommendation can be found in the Annex.

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The Rehlat Watan Tour was a great success! Rehlat Watan kicked off on 21 November in Benghazi and has been full speed ever since. You can follow all the movements, updates, pictures, and videos on the Rehlat Watan Page. See the latest updates from the most recent cities.


 BENGHAZI                                  TOBRUQ

 AL BAIDA                                   SHAHAT & SOUSSE

 KUFRA                                       AJDABIYA/MISRATAH

 KHUMS                                      ZLITEN

 SEBHA                                       JUFRA HOON

 LFJL Citizenship Recommendations

The provision on access to citizenship in the constitutional recommendations has been a key disappointment. The current draft Article 10 in the work of Committee 1 states that citizenship will pass where a child is born to a Libyan father, meaning that Libyan women cannot pass their citizenship to their children. Not only does this discriminate negatively against women, but it also interferes with their right to family life where a Libyan woman is married to a non-Libyan man.

Further, the burdensome process for gaining nationality in Article 12 means that members of minority communities, which have long faced difficulties obtaining nationality, will continue to be discriminated against.

Denial of citizenship restricts access to fundamental services such as health and education.

During LFJL's Rehlat Watan constitutional tour, a clear majority of participants expressed to us that citizenship should pass where a child is born to a Libyan parent of either gender, where a child is born in Libya, or where a person has lived in Libya regularly for more than 10 years.

What do you think?

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LFJL Natural Resources Recommendations

Constitutional protection and regulation of natural resources was a key concern of many participants during LFJL’s Rehlat Watan Constitutional tour. The majority of participants highlighted their desire for:

  • National control of natural resources;
  • Equal revenue redistribution to benefit the whole country effectively, including at a local level;
  • Protections for communities that are damaged by natural resource extraction, which can occur directly and indirectly in areas where natural wealth is not located (for example, due to distribution pipes); and
  • Provisions for future generations to counter the negative effects of over-reliance on natural resources and better share the benefits of the nation’s wealth in the long-term.

The recommendations for natural resources drafted by the 8th Constitutional Committee contain many positive features.  Article (2) provides that the state will have national oversight over national resources. Article 5 states that revenues shall be distributed based on population, marginalisation and poverty, the level of services and infrastructure and in light of the need for all regions to be developed.  Finally, Article (7) establishes a sovereign fund to invest revenues for the rights of future generations.

The draft articles also include protections of the environment as well as renewable resources such as water, plant cover and the sea.  

What do you think of the natural resources and environmental articles? Has the CDA found the right balance between exploitation of resources and the protection of the environment?

Read more:




LFJL Health Recommendations

The Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has stated that health is a fundamental human right indispensable for the exercise of other human rights. Access to healthcare was a priority for participants during LFJL’s Rehlat Watan constitutional tour. Participants raised the issue of the unequal distribution of healthcare funding between regions which has meant that many people, particularly those living in communities outside of the metropolitan centres, face:

  • Inadequate health infrastructure, staffing and equipment;
  • Long journeys and delays to access routine healthcare resulting in disproportionately negative outcomes for regular ailments; and
  • Difficulty of access to specialised, essential health services such as maternal and antenatal care.

In the work of Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA) Committee 6 on Rights and Liberties, the state is committed to ‘Ensure health care for all citizens and provide preventative and therapeutic service therefore.’ The work of CDA Committee 1 also deals with healthcare, stating that policies shall be developed to ‘…upgrade the level of health services and combat and prevent epidemic diseases according to internationally accepted standards.’ Neither set of recommendations provide for an enforceable right to health; address the urgent need for equal allocation of resources across regions; make assurance of access to specialised services such as maternal and antenatal health care; or make provision for equality in health care to address the needs of vulnerable groups.

As a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966 (ICESCR), Libya is committed to ensuring ‘the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health’. This obliges the state to guarantee that health services are not only available but accessible to all, acceptable and of good quality.

The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women 1979 requires Libya to eliminate discrimination against women in health care, including access to health care in connection with prenatal and post-natal pregnancy care.  Both maternal care and child health care have been recognised as being comparable to a core minimum standard of the right to health. Difficulty accessing these services was a key concern of Rehlat Watan participants which must be addressed in the future constitution.

Another vulnerable group whose right to health is not safeguarded in the current draft recommendations is persons with disabilities. Rehlat Watan participants with disabilities described how they feel unequal provision of health affects them disproportionately, and that their right to equal health care must be guaranteed to protect their human dignity.  The right health also extends to enabling persons with disabilities to become “independent, prevent further disabilities and support their social integration.”¹

What do you think of the draft recommendations related to healthcare? Do you think they provide sufficient protection of the right to health, or do you think the provisions should go further? What would you include?

Read more:


¹ Committee of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. General Comment 5, E/1995/22.



FEAUTURED VIDEO: "The Struggle for Human Rights and Democracy in Libya" 

The Destoori Rehlat Watan constitutional bus tour engaged with thousands of individuals across Libya on a wide range of issues, topics, and concerns. This video highlights some of the main issues concerning civil and political rights including minority rights (rights of religious, political, and ethnic minorities), women's rights, torture, and impunity. 

This video was presented at the United Nations Human Rights Council side event " The Long Road Ahead - The Struggle for Human Rights and Democracy in Libya", held by Lawyers for Justice in Libya and Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. This video was used as a basis for discussion at the event and the issues raised were then discussed in further detail.






DAY 24 


23 December 2012


Our Destoori team spent two days in Tripoli, where they conducted surveys and engaged in productive discussions with citizens. The Destoori team visited the Fish Market and Musheer Market. Many there stressed the need for security, to live with dignity, with freedom and the need to build a lawful state. They also believed that an impartial and independent judiciary was essential, as well as having an independent authority responsible for monitoring the work of the legislator, with the power to strike-down any laws violated human rights in Libya. In contrast, some citizens mentioned the need for Sharia to be a source of legislation, but at the same time they expressed the need for the concept of Sharia to be accurately defined.


Many citizens believed that all concepts and phrases included in the constitution must be fully defined, to ensure no politician interprets it to further their own interest. Furthermore, citizens stressed that police and army should only function to protect the people, not government or any political body that wants to win power.


More from Tripoli 


Citizens also expressed that as long as the legislative authority was constrained by the constitution through a supreme court/constitutional court, with the power to strikedown any unconstitutional laws, then Dar Al-Ifat’a should only act as an advisory body and only courts have the right to rule on any conflicts.






Lawyers for Justice in Libya and the Jolie Legal Fellows Program Celebrate the Conclusion of Rehlat Watan Constitution Tour 

Angelina Jolie - Founder of the Jolie Legal Fellow ProgramLawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) joins the Jolie Legal Fellows Program in celebrating the successful conclusion of the Rehlat Watan Tour, part of the Destoori Project. Destoori aims to educate Libyan citizens on the constitution-making process, to engage public opinion, and to create a connection and sense of ownership between the Libyan people and their constitution.


“We are very proud of Destoori and the opportunity it has given us to reach out to Libyans across the country, in every region, and to speak to Libyans about their genuine concerns, their fears and their aspirations for the constitution. We believe that Libya’s constitution must be written by all 6 million set of Libyan hands and represent the voices of all Libyan citizens. Rehlat Watan has brought us closer to that goal,” said LFJL director Elham Saudi. Angelina Jolie added, “I am thrilled that the Jolie Legal Fellows Program is partnering with Lawyers for Justice in Libya and the Destoori project to bring the conversation back to Libyans’ desire for a constitution informed by the will of the people.”

Read more 




Samena Destoorik Competion was a great sucess! Musicians and Singers performed their original pieces depicting constitutional rights in Libya. Visit the Event Page to listen to the winning music.





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