Panafrican News Agency

UNSMIL denounces attack on journalist in Benghazi, eastern Libya

Tripoli, Libya (PANA) - The United Nations Support Mission in Libya yy(UNSMIL) has strongly condemned the attack on the correspondent of Channel "218", Mabrouka al-Mesmari, on Saturday 12 February in Benghazi (east) while she was carrying out her work.

In a statement issued ehre Monday, he UNSMIL called for a "thorough investigation", saying such attacks must be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.

The UN Mission in Libya reiterated the call "for the protection of all journalists and media workers across Libya so that they can carry out their duties without fear.

The management of the privately-owned television station 218 said in a statement that its journalist, Mabrouka al-Mesmari, "was attacked by a criminal group of more than eight people while she was working in the city of Benghazi on Saturday evening, 12 February.

The same source said the attack occurred "after the programme of the channel (Al-Bilad) revealed a political agreement between the leaders of eastern and western Libya that led to the formation of the new government".

It is recalled that the Libyan Parliament appointed last Thursday, Fathi Bachahga, to the position of prime minister after adopting an amendment to the Constitutional Declaration in coordination with the High Council of State, on the creation of a 24-member committee to carry out a review of the draft Constitution, as a prelude to a popular referendum within a period not exceeding 14 months.

An agreement that was seen as a political deal between the Speaker of Parliament, Aguila Saleh, an ally of Haftar, head of the Libyan Army based in the East, with some personalities from the West including the President of the High State Council, Khaled al-Mechri, to share power and extend the mandates of the two institutions that are largely outdated.

The management of Channel 218 also called on the United Nations Mission in Libya and local and international human rights institutions to "intervene immediately to put an end to the attempts to repress journalists and to condemn and denounce this process in defence of freedom of speech and expression".

The channel's statement concluded by stressing that "these attacks against its teams inside Libya will not discourage it from revealing the truth and making the people's voice heard, but will increase its determination and will to fully carry its media message".

In a detailed report sent to the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya at the end of January, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) documented the press freedom violations committed in the country since 2016 and the numerous abuses against journalists.

In a statement released on 8 February, RSF said that "based on information gathered from local sources, RSF details the attacks and threats suffered by 12 journalists and 11 media outlets in particular: extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, threats and intimidation...".

"More than a decade after the Libyan revolution, the climate of violence against journalists remains palpable and is encouraged by total impunity," the international organization defending journalists said, indicating that "repressive laws and the unstable security and political context exacerbate this situation.

It urged, in this period of political transition, that press freedom and the safety of journalists be placed at the heart of the government's concerns. -0- PANA BY/JSG/SOC/BBA/RA 15Feb2022