The Tourism Police is no longer compulsory.
The "Tourism Police & Protecting Antiquities Apparatus" was introduced by the previous Libyan government on the 4th of July 2007. Its functions and responsibilities are outlined by Law 599 of 2007. The law remained in effect until the end of the ousted regime in 2011.
On the 1st of April 2012 the new transitional government of Libya, then led by Prime Minister el-Keib, issued its Decree 141 of 2012, which in effect dissolved the tourism police apparatus and devolved all its assets to the Ministry of Interior.
However, on the 26th of September 2012 the transitional government had reversed its decision and withdrew Decree 141, as stated in its Decree 398 (of 2012).
(1) How does it work?
The tourism police is required only for groups of five or more. The date of arrival must be determined before we apply for the visa, because the Tourism Police will be appointed by the authorities from the date of the permit and thus officially he is employed from that date -- long before the visitors' arrival. The tourist officer will accompany the group in his own vehicle (with the guide). The cost is included in the price of the tour and therefore you do not have to pay any extra money for this service. However, the included cost of this service varies according to the number of individuals in the group. For groups of more than 10 and up to 20 visitors, the old law requires two officers to accompany the group. Thirty visitors apparently require three officers -- presumably one officer cannot keep an eye on such large groups.
(2) Why Tourism Police Was (or is) Required in Libya?
The tourism police was introduced by the previous government to protect Libya's antiquities from vandalism, and hence the full name: the "Tourism Police & Protecting Antiquities Apparatus". This was outlined by Law 599 of 2007, Issued by the GPC on the 4th of July 2007. Considering the archaeological disaster unfolding in Libya, as covered by Temehu's report (museum vandalism and archaeological robberies in libya), it is difficult to understand how any other Libyan government could have handled this issue any differently.
(1) of Law 599 establishes a general, legal authority under the name
of Tourist Police and Protection of Antiquities.
Article(2) defines its headquarters in Tripoli, with
the option to establish local branches and offices by a decision
of the secretary of the General Authority of Tourism and
Article (3) states that the authority shall assume the enforcement of the legislations to "protect" the antiquities of ancient cities and sites, as well as to protect the "tourists" themselves, and hence all tourist officers are armed. This was reflected by the terrorist events taking place in Algeria at the time. The Authority is also required to investigate and collect data on archaeological crimes, sites, tourist groups and "tourist activity"; in addition to monitoring the commitment of public and private companies, hotels and tour guides to effect the passed regulations.
Articles (4), (5) and (6) deal with the workings of the "apparatus",
its duties, budget and financial resources. Articles (8), (9) and (10) detail
the organisation's administration and structure. Article (11) specifies
the "special uniform" required
by officers to wear during duty. The remaining Articles provide further details
in relation to regulations and decision making, while Article (18) effects Law
599 from the date of its issuance: 04/07/2007.
(3) Is The Tourism Police Still Required?
Article (1) of Decree 141/2012, issued by the transitional Prime Minister's Office (ديوان رئاسة الوزراء) on the 1st of April 2012, "dissolves" the Tourism Police & Protecting Antiquities Apparatus; strips it of all its "activities"; and "devolves" all its assets, terms of reference (اختصاصاته) and employees to the Ministry of Interior. Article (2) effects this decree from the date of its publication (01/04/2012).
It is not clear if this removes the compulsory requirement or not; but from these two articles it would appear that the tourism police remains in place and that the decree has merely transferred ('devolved') all its functions and employees to the Interior Ministry.
However we have tested
this for a group of six travellers in 2012 without any issues. The group's entry
formalities at Musaid were completed without the authorities asking for any documentation
relating to the approval of the tourism police.
(4) Decree 398 (of 2012): Withdrawing Decree 141
Nearly six months after the above decision was taken, Decree 141 was reversed (or withdrawn) by the transitional Prime Minister's Office (PMO), as stated by Decree 398 of 2012, issued on the 26th of September 2012. The "back-and-forth" policy of Libyan "uncertainty" and "instability" still lurks in the background; and like the NTC the PMO was also criticised for a number of issues including its inability to have a well-defined strategy and its failure to implement full security.
Tourism Police car outside the Red Casstle Museum, Tripoli, 2009.
Current Administration (2017) - Tripoli
Col. al-Mabrouk al-Zaydi - Head of Tourism Police
Ali Alqalhoud - Head of Tripoli Branch
Yousef Marwan - Head of Ministry of Tourism Branch