AS THE WORLD CELEBRATES WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY, LIBYAN JOURNALISTS FACE RISING THREATS AND VIOLENCE
Tripoli, 3 May 2019 – On this day, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya (SRSG), Dr. Ghassan Salame, pays tribute to the brave journalists who work in extremely difficult circumstances in Libya, despite rising intimidation and violence.
“I am reminded today of the risks Libyan journalists face while doing their job every day,” said the SRSG. “We cannot let the truth become a casualty of the fighting. On this day let us remember the journalists and media workers who sacrificed their lives over the past years while covering the events in Libya.”
Libyan journalists and media workers continue to face threats and attacks for seeking the truth and exercising their freedom of expression, the most recent being the abduction of Libya Al-Ahrar TV journalists Mohamed Al-Garj and Mohamed Al-Shaibani. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) condemns in the strongest terms threats and violence against journalists and media outlets in Libya, and urges the immediate release of all journalists arbitrarily detained.
“Journalists, like all civilians, must be protected. I remind all parties that threats and violence against journalists are prohibited under Libyan law, as well as International Humanitarian and Human Rights Laws,” the SRSG emphasized. UNSMIL monitors, verifies, and documents such violations and calls for perpetrators to be held accountable in accordance with the rule of law.
The Mission urges all parties in Libya to uphold the right to freedom of opinion and expression and facilitate the work of Libyan and international journalists without threats or intimidation. Journalists and media workers are also encouraged to uphold principles of professional journalism, including transparency and impartiality.
The SRSG echoes the Secretary-General António Guterres’s call to end impunity for crimes against journalists. “I call on all officials in Libya and the international community to protect journalists and create the conditions they need to do their essential work,” said the SRSG.
“I pay tribute to Libyan journalists who, despite intimidation and threats, continue to advance freedom of the press. Democracy is built upon our commitment to the fundamental right to freedom of expression,” the SRSG concluded.
Note to correspondents:
UNSMIL has reviewed at least 23 cases of threats, intimidation and violence against journalists since 2018. Journalists face repeated harassment, including refusals to issue or recognise press cards, denials of visas, accusations of spying, discrimination, and threats of death or violence. Tragically, journalists have also been beaten, arrested and detained without charge, kidnapped and killed in the line of duty in Libya.
Since 2019 UNSMIL has reviewed two cases of unlawful killing and more than 10 cases of arbitrary arrest and detention. Two journalists were imprisoned in the East; the remainder were released without charge or trial. Two Tunisian journalists remain missing in the East since 2014. UNSMIL also reviewed three cases of intimidation and threats, including to female journalists.