Rethinking Libya’s Political Isolation Law

Personnel Change or Personal Change? Rethinking Libya’s Political Isolation Law

Nearly three years after the fall of the Qaddafi regime, Libya’s revolution has stalled. Militias continue to run rampant as the government struggles to perform basic functions.

Theoretically to protect the revolution, Libya passed its Political Isolation Law (PIL) in May 2013, effectively banning anyone involved in Qaddafi’s regime from the new government.

The law has raised serious questions: Does it contribute to effective governance and reconciliation? Does it respect human rights and further transitional justice? Will it undermine Libya’s prospects for a successful democratic transition?

In this Brookings Doha Center-Stanford "Project on Arab Transitions" Paper, Roman David and Houda Mzioudet examine the controversy over Libya’s PIL and the law’s likely effects.

Drawing on interviews with key Libyan actors, the authors find that the PIL has been manipulated for political purposes and that its application is actually weakening, not protecting, Libya. They caution that the PIL threatens to deprive Libya of competent leaders, undermine badly needed reconciliation, and perpetuate human rights violations.

David and Mzioudet go on to compare the PIL to the personnel reform approaches of Eastern European states and South Africa. Ultimately, they argue that Libyans would be better served if the PIL were replaced with a law based on inclusion rather than exclusion and on reconciliation rather than revenge.

They maintain that Libya’s democratic transition would benefit from an approach that gives exonerated former regime personnel a conditional second chance instead of blindly excluding potentially valuable contributors.

Please click here to view or download the full report.

(Source: Brookings Institution)

One Response to Rethinking Libya’s Political Isolation Law

  1. Philip Hodkinson 18th March 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    This supports my point made after my visit to Libya in 2012.
    It leaves use of legislation open to manipulation but also throws out the baby with the bathwater.
    Many people now in positions of authority have no experience in their roles causing large holes in strategic direction as they learn from their mistakes(or not)
    Again, many of the people with the experience to help are prevented from doing so by this legislation.
    I have no evidence for my next remark, except historical and anecdotal knowledge. With any dictatorial state,the majority of citizens, for their own safety and whatever their position within a regime, follow the instructions of a few, whether they agree with the directive or not. Therefore it is not logical to exclude all without sufficient evidence that they were in fact, one of the few.

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