July 22, 2016 - Updated on July 27, 2016

Libya: RSF urges journalists to take great care after photographer killed in Syrte

Appalled to learn that an Islamic State sniper killed news photographer Abdelkader Fassouk yesterday in Syrte, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges journalists to adopt the maximum safety precautions while covering the fighting in this extremely dangerous war zone.

According to the information obtained by RSF, more than ten journalists have been injured since forces supporting the Government of National Accord (GNA) began an offensive against Islamic State strongholds in Syrte last month.

The deployment by the GNA of a unit that is supposed be responsible for organizing and protecting journalists in the field failed to prevent Fassouk’s shocking death yesterday.

Despite our appeals to the new Libyan authorities to provide journalists with protection, the abuses are increasing,” said Yasmine Kacha, the head of RSF’s North Africa desk. “In the light of this disastrous situation, we urge journalists to take personal responsibility for their own safety. Evaluating risks before going into the field, wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest, and taking cover when the fighting intensifies are all absolutely essential nowadays for reporters in a war zone such as Libya.”

In partnership with UNESCO, RSF published an updated version of its Safety Guide for Journalists last December. It offers practical advice for both professional and non-professional journalists in high-risk areas. It also stresses the importance of being well prepared in advance, the utmost vigilance in the field and familiarity with the protection that journalists enjoy under international law.

The handbook is available here: Safety Guide for Journalists

A reporter for the Turkey-based Libyan television channel Al Raed TV, Fassouk, 31, had covered the 2011 uprisings in Libya and Syria. His exceptional photos of the operations in Syrte had been used by such leading international media as the New York Times and Reuters.

Libya is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.