By Farah Waleed and Houda Mzioudet.
Tripoli, 7 May 2014:
World Press Freedom Day was commemorated in Tripoli on Saturday with the launch . . .[restrict]of a new civil society organisation in Libya, the Libya Centre for Freedom of Press (LCFP). At an event held at Tripoli’s Radisson Hotel attended by journalists, academics and legal experts, the LCFP spoke of violations of press freedom in Libya and also the means of ensuring a suitable environment for the media to work freely in Libya despite the current lack of security.
The head of the LCFP, Mohamed Al-Najm, stressed in his speech the need for an independent media and for enhanced security for journalists, noting that the lack of security has had a negative effect on media press coverage.
“We fear the incursion of political forces more and more in the media and this is why we demand independence and freedom of the press,” Najm emphasised.
Congressman and member of the congressional media committee, Belgassem Gazait, attended the conference and said that freedom of expression was a fundamental pillar of democratic society and stopping it was the strongest form of tyranny. He also said that Congress was unable to provide security for journalists when it was struggling to provide security for its own members. He mentioned a lack of understanding of a free press, leading to political interference in the it.
Also commemorating World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO held an event in the nearby Waddan Hotel the same day. The morning session was open to the public and included a roundtable discussion entitled “Media and Constitutional Process”. Members from civil societies, the media, UNESCO representatives and officials from UNDP, UNSMIL, BBC Media Action and Deutsche Welle discussed ways of strengthening press freedom in Libya.
Amir El Ghoul, a professor of law in Tunisia, chaired this first session. He emphasised the importance of including guarantees of freedom of press in the constitution. He stressed the importance of the state’s responsibility for protecting these freedoms.
The afternoon session of the UNESCO press freedom event was an invitation-only roundtable discussion on the democratic transition in Libya, attended by officials from the UN. Journalists were allowed to attend, but only as off-the-record participants. They were told not to file any report about the roundtable discussion. No reason was given for such a decision. [/restrict]