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Libya: HRW asks to repeal a law on cybercrime

Libya: HRW asks to repeal a law on cybercrime
A video of the Libyan House of Representatives shows the parliament in session in the ...   -  
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Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Monday to "repeal" a cybercrime law recently enacted in Libya and to release people detained under it, which undermines freedom of expression, according to a report by the NGO.

"The Libyan House of Representatives should repeal the anti-cybercrime law passed in September 2022 which restricts the freedoms of speech and expression," the human rights organization said in a statement.

"Libyans must be able to enjoy the freedom of expression, whether online or not," said Hanan Saleh, HRW researcher on Libya, quoted in the statement. “It is not a good thing to trample on this right in the name of the fight against cybercrime,” she said.

On February 17, authorities in eastern Libya arrested a singer and social media influencer for allegedly violating this law and undermining "public integrity and morals", according to HRW. The NGO called for the "immediate release of those detained under this law for speaking out peacefully".

Article 2 of the new legislation stipulates as one of the objectives of the text the defence of public order and morals, without defining them while Libya remains very conservative, particularly on the place of women in society.

In October 2021, the House of Representatives, the country's sole legislative authority since its election in 2014, approved the text but only adopted it a year later, "without consulting civic groups, experts in technologies or in cybercrime,” HRW pointed out.

The new law was enacted recently, without being officially published.

According to HRW, as early as March 2022, four United Nations experts criticized the law in particular "as undermining the rights to freedom of expression and (the protection of) privacy", saying "it should be revoked".

Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime in 2011, in the wake of the Arab Spring, Libya has been plunged into chaos and division.

Two governments are vying for power, one based in Tripoli (west) and recognized by the UN, and the other based in the east and supported by Marshal Haftar 's camp and the House of Representatives.

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