Tripoli, 20 January:
In terms of freedom Libya . . .[restrict]showed some of the biggest gains of any country during 2012, according to the ‘Freedom in the World 2013’ report.
Libya once had so little freedom that it featured regularly in the organisation’s report that highlighted the world’s most repressive regimes. Now, however, it is one of the world’s freedom success stories.
“After months of civil war and over a year of tenuous nation building, Libya has an elected government, comparatively wide-ranging freedoms, and a leadership that seems committed to accountable rule and openness,” said the report by Freedom House, a US NGO which conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights.
“Having ranked among the world’s worst tyrannies for decades,” the report continued, “the country scored major gains in 2012, especially in the political rights categories, and is now ranked as ‘partly free.’” Libya is one of just three countries upgraded from ‘not free’ to ‘partly free’ in 2012, along with Egypt and the Ivory Coast.
Increased transparency in drafting a constitution and the proliferation and sustained activism of both media outlets and civil society organisations helped boost Libya’s position.
Freedom of expression and civic activity remain on the increase in the country.
Libya was also one of only two countries to achieve ‘electoral democracy’ status during the year. “In defiance of forecasts of chaos and failure, the country held successful elections for a General National Congress that included candidates from a range of regional and political backgrounds.”
Libya is one of just a few countries in the Middle East to be climbing up Freedom House’s rankings. Many other MENA countries, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, were considered to have seen major declines in freedom.
The report said that clear governmental control was still lacking in parts of the country.
“The problem is compounded by the actions of autonomous local militias and radical Islamists.” Thus the Libyan experience with freedom could still go awry.
“Clearly there are forces, both in Libya and in its neighbourhood, that are hoping for failure,” said the report, which concluded: “For the time being, the country qualifies as a success story that deserves the support of freedom’s advocates everywhere.” [/restrict]