Libya’s Supreme Court on Thursday nullified a law passed at the start of May that banned glorification of slain leader Muammar Qaddafi.
“In the name of the people, the court has decided on the unconstitutionality of Law No 37,” the head of the court’s constitutional chamber announced at a brief hearing.
A Libyan human rights group had lodged an appeal with the court against the law adopted by Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council on May 2 that drew criticism from international watchdogs over freedom of expression.
“Praising or glorifying Muammar Qaddafi, his regime, his ideas or his sons... is punishable by a prison sentence,” read the text of the law. The jail terms were unspecified but could range from three to 15 years under Libya’s penal code.
The law had also criminalized spreading rumors or information that could hamper military activities, spread terror, or weaken the morale of citizens.
It had prescribed prison sentences for the glorification of Qaddafi as well as publishing any news “harming the February 17 revolution.”
Earlier this month, Libya’s Supreme Court agreed to review the constitutionality of the law.
The appealing had lawyer told the court that Law 37 violated constitutional freedoms of expression.
“This law is a violation of the basic freedoms of human rights and will help to damage freedoms in Libya,” said Saleh al-Marghani. “The law itself helps to glorify Qaddafi more than keep it in check. We ask the court to accept our appeal.”
“This marks a unique opportunity for the judiciary in Libya to assert its independence and act in its capacity as a monitor of the powers of the lawmakers in the country,” Elham Saudi, director of the Lawyers For Justice in Libya group, told Reuters earlier this month during the appeal.