By Libya Herald staff.
Malta, 30 August 2015:
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the UN body concerned with international border-crossing procedures has . . .[restrict]exempted Libya from a forthcoming ban on travel using old-style non-electronic passports.
The 24 November 2015 deadline comes from Standard 3.10.1 in Annex 9 — Facilitation. ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) in Annexes to the Chicago Convention, the main international law instrument regulating civil aviation matters globally.
The 24 November ban would have prevented many Libyans still unable to obtain a new electronic passport from travelling to key countries such as Tunisia. Tunisian authorities had put out a warning earlier this summer warning that Libyans travellers would not be allowed in with the old green Qaddafi-era passports.
The possibility that many Libyans would be barred from entering many countries increased the demand for new electronic passports in Libya and added to the chaos at passport-issuing offices.
It has also caused a public uproar as the black market price for obtaining a new electronic passport with a ten-year validity shot up to LD 3,000 to 4,000 each.
However, media sources have reported that the Abdullah Thinni government, the only internationally recognized government in Libya, has requested ICAO exempt Libya from this ruling in view of the turbulent political and governance situation the country is going through.
ICAO Standards are legally binding on all ICAO member states, including Libya. However, there are instances when a member state may be unwilling or unable to comply with a specific ICAO ruling, either for a specific period of time or indefinitely.
Exemptions from ICAO rulings are regulated by Article 38 of the Chicago Convention. Generally, when a state is unable to comply with a specific rule, it has an obligation to ‘give notice’ to the Council of ICAO by ‘filing a difference’ under Article 38.
The exemption obtained by Libya should hopefully allow the overwhelmed Libyan passport authorities to catch up with demand for new electronic passports.
In this vain, the Libyan passports authorities have introduced new online passport applications in Libya and with the overseas issuing of electronic passports at Libyan embassies also expected soon. [/restrict]