Libyan Journalists tackle the challenge of widespread impunity

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© UNESCO
17 November 2015

Tunis – 16 November 2015 – As part of commemorations marking the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, Libyan journalists and Human Rights activists have recommended a number of concrete proposals to enable the continuity of their work and to ensure that crimes against media professionals do not go unnoticed or unchallenged.

This was the outcome of one-day roundtable facilitated by UNESCO Tripoli Office and the Regional Bureau of Reporters Sans Frontières, and in the presence of other concerned media partners.

Discussions focused on the urgent need to have all Libyan journalists come together around conflict-sensitive strategies that take into account the specific country context.  All participants drew attention to the fact that journalists are being silenced at the very time the provision of accurate and impartial information is badly needed by the public who are facing critical decisions about their country’s future.  

“We all are aware that collecting and transmitting information is very important in times of crises. If allowed to work professionally, journalists can make a vital contribution to enhance the peace and reconciliation process in Libya”, stated Ambassador Ronald Sturm of Austria. “However, we are increasingly faced with a culture of impunity that endangers professional journalism.”

Michael Croft, UNESCO Representative to Libya, stated that, “Impunity on this scale can reinforce a sense of powerlessness among media professionals, but it is important to understand that the means to respond remains very much in their hands.” He added that, “Recent events in the country suggest impunity is becoming ingrained and international partners must make clear that this is unacceptable.  The best way to do this by working in concert to enhance the resilience of Libyan media professionals.”

Ali Algemati, a journalist from Libya TV, highlighted three steps he believes necessary to curb abuses against journalists: "First, to assist journalists to practice their profession ethically and objectively so as not to increase their exposure to unnecessary risk. Second, for national authorities to uphold their responsibility to ensure public order.  Finally, for UNESCO and other partners to elaborate the outcomes of the recent meetings in Madrid and develop models of best practice that can be used by all journalists."

Malik Stitah, a journalist from Derna, said that it is important that the issue of impunity is being raised while the priorities of the new government are discussed.  He called on UNESCO and other international partners “to do their utmost to ensure the impunity issue in Libya remains in the spotlight as an urgent issue to be addressed by all responsible parties”.   

This activity is undertaken by UNESCO Tripoli Project Office in partnership with Reporters San Frontières, and made possible with the support of the Austrian Embassy and the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  It is part of the Organization’s efforts to reinforce the capacity of Libyan media to contribute to reconciliation and peace in the country as well as to promote freedom of expression and independent media.

 

For more information please contact

Raja’a El Abasi, Program officer

r.el-abasi@unesco.org

tel: +216 71 655 000