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Libya's High Court Strikes Down Law Banning Glorification Of Gadhafi

Libya's Supreme Court decided on Thursday that its citizens should have the right to glorify Moammar Gadhafi, who ruled the country for more than three decades until his ouster last year.

Law 37, which called for prison sentences for those who spoke well of Gadhafi and for those who published bad news about the February 17 revolution, was challenged by a lawyer who argued the law violated the freedom of speech.

Reuters reports the high court agreed. The wire service adds:

"Appealing lawyer Salah Al-Merghani welcomed the decision, which came before the country heads to the ballot box on July 7 to elect a national assembly, paving the way for a new constitution.

"'This law is unconstitutional as it prevents the freedom of speech. We are nearing elections and a basic step is to ensure there is freedom of speech,' he said."

The BBC reports this decision is important in another manner: It gives Libyans more confidence in the judiciary because it proves that it is independent. "Not long ago... the former regime and the country's judiciary were seen by Libyans as one and the same," the BBC reports.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.