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Libyan militias responsible for 31 attacks on journalists in 2015

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 11 November 2015.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the latest militia attacks on Libyan journalists. The Libyan state's disintegration and the failure to punish those responsible for such crimes has created a climate of violence that is extremely dangerous for the right to information.

As they are not dependent on any state entity, Libya's militias are completely uncontrollable and their weight is all the greater because the political and military balance of power is volatile due to the rivalry between the competing factions in Tripoli and Tobruk.

Militias have been responsible for 31 attacks on Libyan journalists this year and they do not hesitate to kidnap those who dare to report or criticize their abuses.

The latest case is that of Mohamed Neili, a photographer working for the Chinese news agency Xinhua, who went missing in still unclear circumstances on 29 October. According to our sources, he was on his way to a district south of Tripoli when he was reportedly abducted by gunmen in broad daylight.

The case recalls freelancer Mohamed El Hedi Dango's abduction in Tripoli on 29 October 2014 by a militia affiliated to Fajr Libya on the grounds that he was said to have been a supporter of the former Gaddafi regime. We have been told that he is still held in Misrata.

“There is an urgent need for light to be shed on these disappearances,” said Yasmine Kacha, head of Reporters Without Borders' Maghreb office. “In the absence of a Libyan government, we appeal to the United Nations Support Mission in Libya and its new special representative, Martin Kobler, to address the need to combat impunity and, in particular, the militia threat to journalists.”

The latest cases registered by Reporters Without Borders include a car chase involving two journalists on 2 November. Freelance photographer Mohamed Rhouma and freelance reporter AbdelMonem Jhimi were pursued by gunmen in a car while returning from a reporting visit to the southwestern city of Sabha. They fortunately succeeded in hiding and called relatives, who went to meet them and gave them the necessary protection so that they could return home.

Reporters Without Borders has been voicing deep concern about militia attacks on journalists since June 2013.

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

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