Experts’ recommendations resulting from the round table on bill organizing
the work of civil society in Libya
Within the framework of the Memo of Understanding which has brought together Democratic Transition & Human Rights Support “DAAM“ with Friedrich Naumann Foundation for liberty Tunisia-Libya and the Libyan Commission for Civil Society, DAAM was honored to organize a roundtable on the bill that organizes the work of civil society in Libya. Discussion session gathered heads of offices and branches of the Commission from different regions of Libya, under the supervision of the Executive Director, Mr. Ibrahim Al-Maqsabi, with a group of Tunisian experts who presented their reading of the bill and presented their recommendations to the participating group based on the Tunisian experience in organizing the work of civil society organizations. These interventions touched on various aspects of this project whether technically or in practice, or at the level of the work of local associations, or at the organizational level.
In this context and in the light of the experts’ readings and conclusions, DAAM Center provides a set of joint outputs in order to expand the scope of the review of the bill, which is the subject of the meeting, in order to provide as much freedom as possible to civil society activity which is the cornerstone in building a democratic civil state that respects human rights within the framework of international law and treaties.
Although DAAM center considers that the current draft is acceptable in many points, such as respecting the principle of notification instead of authorization and providing tax and fiscal privileges to civil society organizations to encourage them, the center however has some observations, recommendations, and suggestions on the content of the text and its application.
Regarding the content of the text, DAAM Center proposes the following recommendations:
- To replace the term “local organizations” with the term “national organizations” because in the future, the term “local organizations” may have some ambiguity and contradicts with its meaning in international texts’ language.
- It is advisable to include the article that provides a definition of the terms used in the text in the law instead of the regulation, the existence of this article in the regulation may open the door for the executive authority to interpret it in a restrictive way.
- There is some contradiction between the strictness of the law on the one hand regarding the prevention of any profit for civil society organizations and on the other hand, allowing them to make some investments for the benefit of the organization.
- Absence of the reference to the gradualization of sanctions (warning, suspension of activity, dissolving the association) and to emphasize the jurisdiction of the judiciary in the issuance of sanctions such as the penalty of dissolving the association.
- It is advisable to limit the role of the Commission to mediation in the settlement of disputes between members of the same association, provided that the judiciary remains responsible for issuing verdicts.
- The right to organize within associations shall be in accordance with the Constitution and the law.
- On the participation of minors, it is advisable to identify areas of activity for minors (under 18 years) within associations.
- Regarding the freedom of naming associations, it is necessary to allow freedom of naming associations with the prohibition of discriminatory and tribal terms (all that could cause disorder or division).
- The violations committed by the association are violations of the law and the constitution.
- Granting associations the right to access information in order to exercise their supervisory role.
- Another legal text on international organizations can be issued in Libya.
- The need to more examine the way organizations are led such as the identification of legal responsibilities and the dual signature of the President and the treasurer.
- The issue of renewal of the registration every two years may be difficult for civil society organizations and would make the commission carry extra burden that it is currently not prepared for.
- At the level of setting and defining specialties for organizations, there is no need to define specialties. If there is a trend towards precision, it is better to bear in mind that specialties should not be narrowed, but must be used in broad terms.
Practical recommendations on organizing the work of civil society and activating the right of associations:
- On the practical level, it is necessary to work on introducing the law to civil society organizations as well as administrative institutions.
- The commission can highlight models of exemplary organizations that are committed to the law to set the example for other organizations.
- To focus on clarifying the relationship between civil society organizations and political parties.
- The commission has the right to impose administrative and financial supervision over civil society organizations without interfering in their activities.
- Emphasize on the freedom of activity while providing oversight tools for the commission, especially financial ones.
- Focus on partnership between civil society and state institutions, ie the relationship between the commission and civil society should be based on mutual trust.
- Associations with a local dimension should be encouraged.
- Supporting the role of associations in contributing to regional and local development and reducing inequalities between regions.
- Ability to register in Libya by regular mail or via electronic platform.
It is worth mentioning that this meeting is considered as a continuation of the round table which was held from the 16th to the 18th of May 2016 in Tunis under the title “Towards a Law for Civil Society Organizations in Libya – Experiences and Challenges”, which was attended by human rights activists, lawyers, journalists , and representatives of the Commission for Civil Society (Benghazi), as well as some experts from Tunisia and Egypt to learn more about the Tunisian and Egyptian experience which resulted in presenting two proposals by Democratic Transition and Human Rights Support Center “DAAM” and Defenders for Human Rights to amend resolutions No. 1 and No.2 of 2016 regarding to organizing the work of local and foreign civil society organizations in Libya to the Libyan Commission for Civil Society, in September 2016. We also proposed a bill and an executive regulation to regulate the work of civil society organizations in Libya.