Panafrican News Agency

NGO reports 14 cases of press freedom violations in Libya

Tripoli, Libya (PANA) - A Libyan NGO  working in the defence of freedom of information and the press over the past year documented 14 cases of press freedom violations, including 10 attacks on journalists in five Libyan cities.

In its annual report, the Libyan Organization for Independent Information said the pace of press freedom violations during the past year remained at the same level as in other years and ranged from abductions and arrests to physical attacks.

The report notes that the city of Sirte (Centre) recorded 40 per cent of the assaults, followed by Tripoli and Benghazi, the country's second largest city in the north-east (20%), Saraban (60 km west of Tripoli) and Ajdajia (800 km east) with 10 per cent.

According to the NGO, women working in the sector were victims of these attacks, 10 per cent of which were made against them.

The publication of confidential information and the incitement of public opinion, which are included in Libya's repressive legal texts relating to press freedom, are still applied against journalists despite the widespread condemnation by the international community.

The application of these texts is, however, done with sanctions without imprisonment and limited to fines unless the complaints filed concern incitement to religious, racial and ethnic hatred, or the incriminating articles incite segregation, violence, war or hatred.

According to the NGO, 29 per cent of the violations against press freedom were committed by the authorities of the two Libyan legislative and executive powers.

The report made several recommendations, including the need for state institutions to protect journalists and media companies. It also touched on the need for state institutions to protect journalists and media companies in line with commitments made in this regard.

It again called for respect of Article 19 of the International Declaration on Human Rights and the need to strengthen press freedom by providing legal and constitutional protection for workers in the sector during daily coverage of events.  

The NGO urged the Libyan authorities to take more measures to ensure press freedom and to create an environment in which media outlets can work freely. The organization called on the Libyan legislature to adopt a new law that organizes the press in the country and to abolish legislation that imposes the death penalty or that is contrary to Libya's Constitutional Declaration and international conventions on the protection of press freedom signed by the Libyan state.

It also called for a ban on the trial of journalists before military courts and the revision of the anti-terrorism law, explaining that the trial of citizens, both civilian and military, before military courts on issues related to freedom of expression was a flagrant violation of Libya's international commitments to protect freedom of expression.

It further urged the authorities to put in place operational and effective mechanisms that end impunity for crimes against journalists in Libya and incitement to hatred.

The NGO called on the Libyan authorities and the international community to prosecute the perpetrators of crimes against journalists and to adopt a UN work plan on the safety of journalists.

Twenty-one Libyan human rights organizations signed on the occasion of the International Press Freedom Day eight demands aimed at protecting press freedom in Libya.

They included the adoption of a new law to organize the information sector in the country and the prohibition of preventive arrest for all crimes related to publication and broadcasting.