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New website for law in Libya: ‘A bridge between different scholars and audiences’

Making justice accessible to all residents in Libya. This week, a new website is launched which should contribute to this. Leiden University and the University of Benghazi have been working together on several projects since 2012. Project leader Suliman Ibrahim explains why this project is unique.

Suliman Ibrahim

Could you explain for those less familiar with the situation in Libya – what is the biggest challenge right now in that country when it comes to access to justice?
Since the fall of Gadafi in 2011, Libya has experienced an extremely turbulent decade marked by many very serious human rights violations. At the same time, many of Libya’s institutions tasked with maintaining law and order are struggling to cope. In this situation, many Libyans are discouraged from taking their serious problems to the police or to the courts. These large-scale issues also impact the very practical workings of courts, police stations, and prosecution offices: their funding, staffing, their electricity and internet access, their access to laws, circulars, and court rulings.

How can this website contribute to improving this matter?
The trouble is that many Libyans currently publish the most insightful analyses and legal commentaries on Facebook, while some laws, circulars, and court rulings are not available online at all. The vision for this website, is that it will become an indispensable and reliable aid for people interested in law and legal issues in Libya. We feel that by foregrounding high-level research, important legal documents, and stimulating critical exchange, we can help Libyans and an international audience learn more about law and society in Libya.

For whom is the website intended?
Really for anyone interested in issues concerning law and society in Libya. In the first place,  Libyans working in the legal field i.e. judges, lawyers, and prosecutors. But we hope that students will also find their way to the website. For the international audience working on law in Libya, we will translate some opinion pieces and legal documents from Arabic to English.


You felt it was important for the website to be made in both English and Arabic, why?
That the website would have to be made in Arabic was clear from the start. Many Libyans do not read English - or not to an academic legal level. We wanted also to have English functionality for the international audience working on issues in Libya, many of whom do not read Arabic. Producing a website in both these two languages was extra challenging, also regarding the website’s layout. For example, both languages are read in different directions. We hope that the website may also bridge the gap between those two audiences.

This website is a start, how do you hope people will contribute to the website? How can they help?
People can help by sharing the word with anyone who might be interested. Then, please let us know what you think! All responses are most welcome and helpful. Last but not least, we welcome opinion pieces from people conducting research on Libya, or working on matters concerning Libya, or working in Libya. So do reach out to us if you have any ideas!

What made this collaboration special for you personally?
It takes a socio-legal approach. This required forming research teams composed of Libyan and Dutch researchers from different backgrounds, which provided a great opportunity for learning. Since the approach is new in Libya, many Libyan academics and practitioners have been trained on qualitative and quantitative research methods. The collaboration also strove to produce tailor-made policy recommendations based on solid academic research. I believe it has succeeded. Frequently, Libyan state institutions have consulted the research team and made use of the research output. In all that, maintaining Libyan ownership was at the core of this collaboration; the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs sponsored all the projects, and the Van Vollenhoven Institute provided valuable academic support. The projects, however, were always driven by actual Libyan needs.

Website Launch

On 11 July 2023, a new website ‘Libyan Law and Society’ will be launched. During the launch, a brief explanation will be given of its main objective and function, some initial reactions, and an invitation to the audience to contribute ideas, questions, and comments. If you would like to attend or have any questions or comments, please send an email to b.j.braak@law.leidenuniv.nl .

The launch will take place both online and at the Van Vollenhoven Institute.
Time: 11.00-11.45

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