Saturday, September 21, 2013

Libya: Journalists in Libya attacked by powerful militias


As Libya prepares to mark the second anniversary of dictator Muammar Gaddafi's removal, Reporters Without Borders voices alarm about the repeated cases of violence against journalists, which testify to the difficulties the country is encountering in its transition to democracy.

“Although the democratic transition is clearly proving hard to manage, we remind the new Libya that it is subject to national and international obligations to ensure respect for freedom of expression and information,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“We urge the authorities to do whatever is necessary to make sure that journalists are able to work with complete safety. Protecting of the offices of newspapers and TV stations is a minimum obligation that must be satisfied without delay.”

Ahmed Abosnina, the Benghazi-based correspondent of privately-owned Al-Nabaa TV, was attacked on the morning of 17 September 2013 while driving to Benghazi airport in the TV station's vehicle. Two men stopped him, insulted him and hit him with steel bars. Fortunately, he managed to escape.

Abosnina has received repeated threats on his Facebook account because of his work for Al-Nabaa and, previously, for satellite TV stations Al-Jazeera and Libya Al-Ahrar.

Two weeks ago, on 4 September, Al-Wataniya TV chief Tareq Al-Houni and two of his journalists were insulted and hit by members of a local militia who were supposed to be providing security at the TV station's headquarters in Tripoli during a visit by parliamentarian Mohamed Younes Al-Toumi.

The militiamen insulted and attacked Toumi before turning on the three journalists. Houni filed a complaint about the violence but no action has been taken and the militiamen are still occupying Al-Wataniya's headquarters.

's employees went on strike for several days in April in an attempt to get the government to send members of the regular armed forces to guard the station instead of this militia, which has been the station's self-appointed protector ever since Gaddafi's overthrow.