IFJ Gravely Concerned for Safety & Freedom of Media in Libya
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed its grave concern for the freedom, rights and safety of journalists in Libya as the third anniversary of the country's uprising approaches.
Ahead of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising this Monday, 17 February, the IFJ has called on Libyan authorities to improve protection for media workers in the country and end impunity for violent attacks against journalists, while also voicing its fear that steps are being taken to curb the freedom of expression the country's people fought so hard to gain.
The IFJ stance follows reports that Libyan authorities have consolidated a Gaddafi-era law that criminalises insults to the state, its emblem or flag and outlaws all criticism of the ‘17 February Revolution' or insults to officials. It has also been reported that a decree has been passed banning satellite television stations that broadcast reports perceived as hostile to the ‘17 February Revolution' or deemed to be aimed at destabilizing the country.
Abuse and attacks against the country's media are also on the rise, leading to some cases of self-censorship and, at times, forcing journalists to resign. Last December, the IFJ called for an investigation into the brutal murder of Radwan al-Gharyani, while earlier this month unidentified attackers attempted to break into the Benghazi office of local TV channel, Libya al-Ahrar, opening fire on the building, and on 11 February the Tripoli office of Al-Assema, TV station was attacked with rocket propelled grenades.
"Three years ago the people of Libya took to the streets to overthrow Muammar al-Gaddafi and demand basic human rights and freedom of expression," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "But now, as the anniversary of the country's supposed liberation approaches, there are reports that journalists are being intimidated and attacked for reporting the truth and the country's authorities are introducing oppressive laws, similar to those instigated under Gaddafi, that seek to undermine media freedom.
"We call on those in power in Libya not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to uphold the country's constitutional commitment to freedom of expression. They must introduce the necessary measures required to protect journalists and ensure that all attacks against media are effectively investigated and the perpetrators face the full weight of justice."
(Source: International Federation of Journalists - IFJ)