Violations against Libyan journalists and media professionals in Libya are increasing, including
journalist and human rights activist Mohammed Al-Kameishi. Many journalists and media professionals have been subjected to arbitrary arrest, death threats and torture. The current situation in Libya is characterized by chaos and instability. The involvement of the Internal Security Service and its deputy Lotfi Al Harri in these violations is a serious matter that hampers the freedom of the press and media and harms democracy in Libya. It should be noted that the Internal Security Service in Libya is very strong and is based in vital locations inside the country. Therefore, it has great influence in politics, security and justice in the country. However, this body should be transparent, accountable and committed to human rights and freedom of the press and media. It is also important that the new Libyan government work to achieve justice for persecuted Libyan journalists and media professionals and provide a safe environment for the press and media in Libya. The international community should also act to support press freedom in Libya and pressure the Libyan government. Between mid-2012 and November 2014, Human Rights Watch documented at least 91 cases of threats and assaults against journalists, including against at least 14 female journalists and media workers.
The impact of the deteriorating political and security situation on Libya’s media has been profound. The media landscape has become polarized, chaotic, politicized, and violent. The international community must also act to support press freedom in Libya and pressure the Libyan government to take action. Without these efforts, the future for journalists and media professionals in Libya looks bleak.
This report documents attacks against journalists and the offices and facilities of media outlets since the 2011 uprising, including threats, assaults, kidnappings, and killings and addresses the failure of the government to protect journalists and the media, and hold perpetrators of attacks on them accountable. Human Rights Watch is not aware of a single instance in which officials prosecuted a perpetrator of an attack against a journalist or media outlet since 2011. The report also documents criminal prosecutions of journalists for defamation and libel, on the basis of problematic laws that continue to unduly restrict freedom of expression.
The situation for journalists and media professionals in Libya is alarming. The increasing number of violations against these individuals is indicative of a broader trend towards censorship and repression in the country. The involvement of the Internal Security Service in these violations is particularly concerning, given the agency’s significant influence in the country’s politics, security, and justice systems. In order for Libya to move towards a more democratic and open society, it is essential that the government takes steps to protect the freedom of the press and ensure that those who violate it are held accountable. The international community must also act to support press freedom in Libya and pressure the Libyan government to take action. Without these efforts, the future for journalists and media professionals in Libya looks bleak.
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