Libya: Threats and Violence Against Journalists Reach Alarming Level

An attack by security guards on a TV crew outside the National Congress building in Tripoli on 1 February has reinforced Reporters Without Borders' concern about the growing number of cases of threats and violence against journalists in the course of their work.

"The authorities must shed light on all the circumstances of these incidents, which constitute major violations of freedom of information," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. "The Libyan media have a fundamental role to play in the transition to democracy under way in Libya."

The latest incident began when security guards ordered a crew with the privately-owned TV station Al-Assima to stop filming outside the National Congress on 1 February.

After an exchange of words, the guards attacked reporter Salah Abu Za'tar, cameraman Mus'ab Ali Al-Harari and driver Abdelfatah Mansour Mohammad Al-Danouni, breaking four of Danouni's teeth and two of Harari's teeth and leaving them with bruises and contusions.

Although congress issued a formal apology and promised to punish those responsible, no concrete and effective measures have so far been taken to protect journalists and fully guarantee freedom of information.

Reporters Without Borders is worried by the frequent recurrence of threats, including death threats, against Libyan journalists, which are often but not solely made by semi-official armed groups or religious groups. Such threats constitute serious violations of media freedom.

Reporters Without Borders therefore urges the authorities to do whatever is necessary to provide Libyan journalists and foreign journalists working in Libya with unconditional protection in accordance with international standards regarding freedom of the media and information.

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