By Callum Paton.
Tripoli, 20 January 2014:
Libya’s National Council for Civil Liberties and Human rights (NCCLHR), has said that interference from the . . .[restrict]Ministry of Finance is imposing on its independence and the withholding of essential funds may eventually render it unable to continue its work.
Executive Director of the NCCLHR, Waleed Kawaan, accused the Ministry of Finance of “serious and flagrant interventions” into the organisation’s affairs. “The executive powers have tried to intervene in the financial performance of the council by imposing an internal auditor, contradicting the law which established the council and conflicting with international standards,” he said. “The intent of the government to impose their will on the council may lead to influence one of the important aspects of its work, its ability to criticise the government.”
Speaking yesterday at press conference for the release of the NCCLHR’s most recent report, Kawaan railed against the Ministry of Finance not only for imposing on its independence but also for holding back funds crucial to its work. The organisation said that delays to the release of monies from the government budget was preventing it from opening branches across the country. The NCCLHR said it had been forced to survive on previously-allocated funds left over from the last budget, although the Ministry of Finance had also asked for these to be returned.
“The council is transparent in its accounts and expenditures and accepts the reviews of neutral bodies which do not interfere with its independence,” Kawaan said. “There has to be accountability before civil society organisations, the general public and those in power, but not in a way which encroaches on our independence.”
The Libyan NCCLHR was established by Law No.5 in 2011 as an independent human rights and civil liberties watchdog. Its funding should be allocated independently by Congress. The council has an extensive remit in line with similar institutions around the world and is headed by former NTC Minister of Justice, Mohammed Allagi [/restrict]