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POGAR > Countries > Country Theme: Civil Society: Libya
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Laws of Associations

The government grants the right of association to official institutions by virtue of Law 71 of 1972, which regulates associational activity in Libya. In general, there are no independent organizations in Libya, and the existence of such organizations would be considered contrary to the revolution, and therefore illegal. Law 20 of 1991 on the Promotion of Freedom sanctions the death penalty for anyone whose continued existence would lead to the disintegration of Libyan society. It states that the People’s Congresses are the sole means for Libyan citizens to exercise self-determination. The ‘Code of Honor’ of March 1997 institutes a system of collective punishment for wrongdoing, whereby families, towns and municipalities are held responsible for the actions of individuals in their midst and are subject to punishment such as the dissolution of the local People’s Congress or the denial of government services, including utilities, water, infrastructure projects.

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Political Parties

Associations engaging in political activity are illegal in Libya. Further, political activity is defined by Articles 2 and 3 of Law 71 of 1972 as any activity based on a political ideology contrary to the principles of the Al-Fateh Revolution of September 1, 1969. This law has typically been used to disband Islamist political organizations, as in 2002 when 86 professionals and students were sentenced to jail for their membership in the Libyan Islamic Group; in that case, two of the leaders were sentenced to death. Commemorating the 28th anniversary of the "Declaration of People's Power", the Libyan leader Mu'amar Qadhafi confirmed on March 3, 2005 that Libyans are free to choose the way they practice their political power within the framework of the "Third International Theory".

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Associations and Unions

Members of each profession form their own unions and syndicates to defend their professional rights. Workers may join the National Trade Unions’ Federation, which was created in 1972 and is administered by the People's Committees. This official trade union organization plays an active role in the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions, the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, and the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). Abdalla Idriss, General Secretary, General Federation of Producers Trade Unions, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, was elected to be a vice president of WFTU at its 14th Congress held in New Delhi in March 2000. A Libyan delegation also attended the Maghreb Trade Union conference held in Tunis in July 2001.

Other umbrella organizations are the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Trade, Industry, and Agriculture and the General Federation of Producers’ Trade Unions. The government also created the Libyan Arab Human Rights Committee in 1989. The 1994 Purge Law was established to fight financial corruption, black marketeering, drug trafficking, and atheism.

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Media and Government Regulations

The press is controlled and the government owns the broadcast media. People are able to receive news from satellite television. There is a state-run daily newspaper, Al-Shams. Local Revolutionary Committees publish several smaller newspapers. The official news agency is the Jamahiriya News Agency (JANA). The Law on Publications, No. 76 of 1972, as modified by Law 120 of 1972 and Law 75 of 1973, govern the operation of the press, reserving all rights to publish to two public entities, the General Corporation of Press, Professional Unions and Syndicates and Ad-dar Al-Jamahiriya.

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