Unable to work journalists flee Libya because of violence

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Journalism is getting more and more dangerous in Libya, where violent clashes are reported almost every day despite negotiations between the various factions that began under UN aegis at the start of the year. The chaotic environment poses a constant threat to reporters, who are increasingly forced to flee abroad.

In October 2014, Reporters Without Borders launched a campaign aimed at making the international public aware of what is happening to journalists in Libya. The campaign visual showed the scene of a journalist’s murder together with the words: “Not seeing news from Libya any more? He did try though.”

Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the continuing acts of violence against journalists, which have increased steadily in number since the campaign’s launch.

“The overwhelming violence to which journalists are now exposed in Libya is making it virtually impossible for them to work and is forcing them to flee en masse to neighbouring countries,” said Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon. “This situation is all the more alarming because the news media have a vital role to play in conflict zones. The safety of journalists should be an absolute priority for national and international actors in Libya.”

Journalists brutally murdered

Three bloggers and activists – Mohamed Bettou, Mohamed El Messmari and Siraj Ghatess – were found with their throats cut in November in Darna, an eastern city controlled by extremist religious militias that is regarded as one of the most dangerous places in Libya for news providers.

Mohamed Hawess, a reporter and former presenter on the Libyan TV station Likoule El ahrare, was kidnapped in Tripoli in mid-December and was held for three days, until released in a prisoner exchange.

Cameraman Salem Al Husadi fled the country a few weeks ago after being the target of a murder attempt in Darna in October.

Exodus of journalists

Reporters Without Borders has registered many cases of journalists being forced to flee abroad since November. They include Sirine El Amari, who was France 24’s Tripoli correspondent. She left in November after being repeatedly summoned by the authorities in Tripoli to explain her reports, and then receiving several threats.

Cartoonist Nizar Siala fled after receiving death threats because of a cartoon about the destruction of Libya’s cultural heritage in Tripoli.

Former Al-Jazeera correspondent Naim La3chibi fled in February after his Benghazi home was destroyed in an act of vandalism.

Libya is ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.