Clashes between Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and the UN-backed government early April 2019 in Tripoli, have exacerbated divisions in the country. This has also impacted journalism and reporting, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Libyan TV channels broadcasting from abroad, founded by businessmen and political parties, face charges of receiving funds to support one party at the expense of another.
AFP quoted Mohamed Al-Najem, Executive Director of the Libyan Centre for Press Freedom, saying: “Due to the ongoing conflicts since 2014, the journalist in Libya is denied the right to exert the profession ordinarily” while referring to “32 cases where journalists were assaulted in Tripoli and its suburbs.”
Al-Najem stated that “every violent clash on the ground increases the rate of attacks on journalists, especially with the escalation of media discourse”, adding that “media outlets, especially those broadcasting from outside the country, are heavily involved in the escalation of violence and hate speech, fuelling acts of violence on the ground, which, therefore, exposes journalists working for these channels to risk.”
Journalist Jihan Al-Jazawi, who works for the Cairo based Libyan news agency Al-Wasat, said: “the journalist and media foundation bear a large part of the responsibility because they are biased and adopt certain political positions”. He noted that “journalists should not take political positions, especially amid the critical situation in Libya, as this will contribute to fuelling the conflict and deepening the rupture between warring parties.”
Al-Jazawi added: “Many media organisations operate with a political objective, and therefore put their journalists at risk.”
In Libya, there are two conflicting political forces, namely the UN-based Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and a parallel government in the east supported by the elected parliament and the Haftar’s forces.
Journalists in Libya continue to be “intimidated and arbitrarily detained”, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report, at the end of last month. He confirmed that since the beginning of this year, one case of unlawful killing and more than a dozen arrest cases against journalists have been recorded, in addition to two journalists who were detained in the east of the country.
It is noted that Libya is far behind in international press freedom scales, ranking 162 in the 2019 ranking.