Media freedom has been declining steadily for the past three years in Libya as a result of its political division into eastern and western parts. According to RSF’s tally, three journalists (two Libyans and a Dutch citizen) have been killed since the start of 2016 and many others, including Wiem Benzabia in January, have been abducted.
After an arson attack by a militia on Annaba’a TV in March, a list of 80 of the TV channel’s employeed was leaked, thereby putting their lives in danger.
In partnership with the Libyan Centre for Freedom of Press (LCFP), RSF has created a crisis unit to help journalists who have been the victims of targeted violence. Forty of them have left for Turkey. In all, RSF calculates that around 100 have fled the country since 2011. Many media outlets have also relocated abroad. The number choosing to broadcast from outside the country is constantly growing.
“The situation is dire for Libya’s journalists because the authorities do very little to protect them from the militias and the other parties to the conflict in this country,” said Sophie Busson, the head of advocacy at RSF.
“The Libya Quartet meeting being held tomorrow under European Union aegis should be used to discuss urgent measures to improve media freedom and the freedom to inform in Libya before the country loses all of its journalists. The political process aimed at resolving the crisis that has existed since 2011 will not be able to reach a successful conclusion without a free and independent press in Libya.”
RSF and the LCFP call on the Libya Quartet (European Union, United Nations, Africa Union and Arab League) to:
- Urge the Libyan authorities to establish protective measures for journalists and to conduct impartial, independent and effective investigations into cases of journalists killed, tortured or missing in order to bring those responsible to justice and to reinforce the safety of journalists in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2222 of 2015 on protecting journalists in armed conflicts and with the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
- Allow the provision of direct assistance to journalists and to the organizations that support them.
- Support the call from media outlets, journalists and NGOs all over the world for the creation of a special representative of the UN secretary-general for the safety of journalists in order to ensure that international undertakings on the protection of journalists are translated into concrete action.
Libya is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.