Reporters Without Borders on Friday condemned the use of violence by members of the Italian special forces against two Libyan journalists on 9 March at Tripoli’s Mitiga airport, where the reporters were covering the repatriation of the bodies of two Italian hostages killed in northwestern Libya.
Members of an Italian special unit attacked Associated Press reporter Mohamad Ben Khalifa and Reuters reporter Hani Amara verbally and physically. Amara was hit with great force in the face while Khalifa was repeatedly insulted.
“It is unacceptable that these Italian officials attacked Khalifa and Amara and blocked access to information,” said Yasmine Kacha, the head of RSF’s North Africa desk. “Libyan journalists continue to be victims of the violence reigning in Libya although they have a key role to play in restoring peace.”
The security situation in Libya has been worsening since the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, creating a climate of tension and violence that makes it extremely difficult for journalists to operate. The situation has been further complicated by the existence two rival governments, one based in Tobruk and the other Tripoli. As a result of negotiations under UN aegis, a new single government was announced on 17 December but this attempt to resolve the political crisis has not as yet been successful.
Libya is ranked 154th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2015 press freedom index.