Libya’s press and media are among the world’s least free

By Olfa Andolsi.

Reporters_Without_Borders

Tunis, 27 April 2017:

When it comes to an unrestricted media and the safety of  journalists, Libya ranks close to the bottom of a new index on press freedom produced by Reporters without Borders (RSF).

In its annual report released yesterday, the French watchdog put Libya 163 of the 180 countries it surveyed. It noted that since the Revolution in 2011, more than 50 journalists had fled into exile after colleagues had been murdered, kidnapped or beaten up. Moreover, the climate of repression is worsening. Libya’s ranking was one slot down over last year.

“After the revolution a revival was seen in the media, but the situation did not last long due to new violations,” Mohamed Ennajem, director of the Libyan Centre for Freedom of Press, said yesterday at the Tunis launch of the RSF report.

“There have been alarming figures in the cases of attempted murder and kidnapping. This is in line with the absence of political will in Libya which represents the major reason for the violations against the press in Libya,” he added.

Another key issue is the country’s political divide. With competing governments having their own media departments, news was skewed and biased. Either journalists were subjected to professional pressures by superiors or the reporters themselves took a particular viewpoint and became a party to the political conflict, he stated.

Ennajem said this was exacerbated by foreign media outlets taking sides and not being transparent, which he believed was a key reason for Libya’s fall in the RSF rankings

The judiciary showed little interest in prosecuting human rights violations against journalists the report said. Therefore, said Ennajem, the international community had to take the lead in supporting structural reform to protect journalists and make reforms.

At the RSF report launch at a Tunis hotel was a member of  the family of one of the two Tunisian journalists allegedly kidnapped by the so-called Islamic State three years ago. Nothing has since been heard of Sofiane Chourabi and Nadhir Ketari.

The relative, who was not identified complained:  “My government has failed me,” Every single country seemed to be concerned with the journalists’ fate, he said, except that of Tunisia.

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