Libya’s Supreme Court has annulled a law that criminalized praising late leader Muammar Gaddafi and his regime, following an outrage among civil groups and legal experts describing it as undemocratic.
On Thursday, court head Judge Kamal Bashir Dahan ruled that the new law, passed in May, Reuters reports.
"In the name of the people, the court has decided to accept the appeal of Law 37 of 2012 as it is unconstitutional," he said in a brief hearing.
Under that law, passed by the National Transitional Council, praising or glorifying the ousted Colonel Gaddafi was punishable by a prison sentence ranging from three to 15 years. The law also criminalized spreading news or information “harming the February 17 revolution.”
The Supreme Court agreed to review Law 37 after lawyer Saleh al-Marghani appealed it, saying it violated freedom of expression.
"This law is unconstitutional as it prevents freedom of speech. We are nearing elections and a basic step is to ensure there is freedom of speech," he said.
Democracy seems to be trailing in post-Gaddafi Libya, where those who toppled the strongman’s regime have appeared to deploy the same repressive tactics against their opponents.