Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) calls for all state bodies to respect the rights of freedom of expression and assembly during the demonstrations planned for Friday 7th February 2014.
The demonstrations mark the end of the mandated term of the General National Congress (GNC) as established in the Libyan Constitutional Declaration. Those taking part in the protest reject the legitimacy of the proposed roadmap for a new constitution and legislature guided by the current GNC.
The rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are fundamental human rights which are guaranteed in numerous bodies of international and national law, including Libya’s Constitutional Declaration. The Libyan government has an established duty to the public to take all necessary measures to ensure those who wish to engage in peaceful public demonstrations are able to do so safely. Ensuring that the public is able to question the legitimacy of those in power is a fundamental component to any functioning democracy. State institutions and public figureheads, whether they be elected or appointed, should therefore refrain from inflammatory statements during this period, especially those that may incite violent responses.
LFJL Director Elham Saudi said,”freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are fundamental rights of all citizens and it is the duty of the state to allow its citizens to enjoy them peacefully. The government must take the necessary measures to protect these protestors.” LFJL hopes that the Libyan government will fulfil its duty to protect all persons exercising their human rights peacefully. Ms Saudi added, “the government has failed to protect citizens exercising their rights before, too often to a deadly end as the events of Gharghour in November remind us. We hope that it will learn from those incidents and prioritise the protection of citizens on this occasion and going forward.”