Libya: An appropriate environment must be created in which journalists can work without prosecution or threat
Stockholm - The international human rights foundation "Skyline" says it is time to take serious steps to ensure the protection of Libyan journalists by bringing those parties, including internal parties, violating their rights before a fair trial, and advocates for the application of the rules of international law that ensure, in particular, the protection of journalists.
In its statement released today (Thursday), Skyline expresses its deep concern about the escalation of attacks by several armed parties and security forces on journalists and media workers in Libya, and stresses that these practices constitute a serious violation of fundamental rights guaranteed by international law.
Skyline points to the documented number of attacks against Libyan journalists: 70 attacks against journalists were documented between May 1, 2019 and April 30, 2020, while 36 attacks against journalists were documented between May 2020 and May 2022.
The human rights foundation "Skyline" also notes the diversity of these violations and their varying severity, sometimes extending to threats and attempted murder, in addition to other serious violations such as enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, beatings, injuries, arbitrary dismissal, work bans, attacks, and escalation against the media
Skyline highlights the study issued by the Libyan Media Organization last September, which recorded about 30 murders of journalists and bloggers in the last decade, 11 cases in Benghazi, seven cases in Derna, and three cases in Sabha. Also, two cases in Misurata and one case each in Tripoli, Qara Boli and Brega, and in the area between Ghat and Ubari.
According to the Libyan organization, these crimes occurred while reporting on armed clashes or protests that degenerated into violence, or because of their writings, journalistic work, or blog posts critical of the situation in the country, and in most cases the perpetrators went unpunished.
For his part, Skyline reports that prior to February 2011, the press in Libya was restricted by laws that prevented any free activity outside the ruling regime, but things began to change after February 2011, particularly with the adoption of Article 14 of the Interim Constitutional Declaration. This article guaranteed the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press, as well as the abolition of laws that restricted press freedom. In the first few years after the February Revolution, Libya experienced remarkable development of freedom of the press and freedom of expression, but repeated and new setbacks soon occurred as the political crisis worsened and the security situation deteriorated.
Skyline points out that despite the decrease in attacks in the last two years compared to previous years, many journalists have been forced to abandon their profession or leave Libya in search of a safe haven.
Therefore, "Skyline" stresses that the practices it has observed against Libyan journalists and media workers clearly reflect the use of threats and aggression by the armed and security forces to prevent these individuals from carrying out their work, and points out that these practices constitute a serious violation of the rules of international law, which is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Geneva Conventions and other rules that guarantee people the freedom to share and publish information and report news without restrictions or persecution.
Skyline concludes its statement by calling on the Libyan government to play a more effective role in ending the unwarranted violations on its part and on the part of the armed militias, to work toward stability, and to allow journalists and media professionals to carry out their duties without restrictions or persecution.