Libya: ongoing crackdown on the right to freedom of association

In a statement issued on the occasion of the Human Rights Council debate on the latest report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, the ICJ denounces the ongoing crackdown on civic space and on the right to freedom of association in Libya, with recent rulings severely hindering the work of human rights NGOs.

The statement reads as follows:

“Mr. Special Rapporteur,

The ICJ welcomes your report and concurs that fact-finding missions (FFM) play an important role in the quest for accountability for human rights violations and crimes. In this regard, the ICJ remains dismayed that this Council failed to renew the mandate of the FFM on Libya notwithstanding the Libyan authorities’ intensification of their crackdown against civil society activists, including the marked deterioration of the situation of women.

Since this Council’s failure to renew the Libya FFM’s mandate, the civic space has continued to shrink. In March 2023, the High Judicial Council ruled that the registration of all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) established pursuant to regulations issued since 2011 was null and void and that a Gadhafi-era law was the only applicable legal framework for NGO registration. Both the Western and Eastern authorities started implementing this law, which violates international human rights law and standards. It effectively bans human rights NGOs, allowing executive interference in NGOs’ work and empowering undefined “competent bodies” to dissolve NGOs, including for “indecency”, without any possibility of judicial review.

The ICJ calls on the Council to urge the Libyan authorities to stop cracking down on NGOs and to enact a legal framework in line with international standards.

Thank you.”



Sandra Epal-Ratjen, ICJ Main UN Representative and Senior Legal Adviser, e: 

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