24 February 2014

Africa: More Than 20 Attacks On Media and Journalists Since Start of Year

press release

Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the constant threats and violence against Libyan journalists, who are being targeted with increasing frequency by the various armed groups operating in Libya since the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime.

More than 20 acts of intimidation and physical attacks against media personnel have been registered since the start of 2014.

Reporters Without Borders urges the Libyan authorities to deploy whatever resources are needed to ensure that these abuses are independently and impartially investigated and those responsible are brought to justice. They must not go unpunished.

Journalists have a crucial role to play in the new Libya, especially during elections, but they have been hit badly by the current climate of violence and lawlessness. Threats, arbitrary detention, intimidation and armed attacks are increasingly being used to prevent media personnel from doing the their job. Some journalists have even fled the country, fearing for their safety and the safety of their families.

In one of the latest attacks, Al-Assima satellite TV station owner Jumaa Al-Osta's home in the Tripoli suburb of Gurji was bombed at around 5 a.m. on 20 February, causing major damage, injuring a journalist and even shaking nearby homes.

It seems the explosive charge was deposited in a bag outside the house by two men who fled in a car with no licence plate. Hassan Hussein, an Al-Assima journalist living in an annex, was badly hurt by the blast, sustaining back and leg injuries. His nose was also broken. Al-Osta and his children were at home at the time.

This was the third case of violence against Al-Assima and its personnel in 10 days. Rocket-propelled grenades were previously fired at the TV station, which is located in the same neighbourhood as Al-Osta's home and which has been the target of threats and attacks ever since it opened.

Al-Osta said he had received many threatening messages saying that his home would be the next target and that his children could also be kidnapped.

Reporters Without Borders points out that the bases of a democratic system include respect for pluralism of opinions and voting by an informed electorate. The media and journalists play a vital role in elections by providing news and opinions and acting as a forum for debate. Their work needs to be protected, no obstructed.

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