The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has strongly condemned the arrest of two organisers of an annual media award in Tripoli, Libya.
Armed men linked to the Government of National Accord (GNA), Lybia’s internationally recognized government, have arrested Suleiman Qashout, chair of the Septimus Award board, and Mohamad Yaacoubi, director of the award, at a café in Tripoli’s Hai Al-Andalous area on April 29, 2018.
The Septimus Award, named after the Roman emperor who was born in Libya, has been given annually since 2012 to Libyan media professionals, singers, and actors in a ceremony in Tripoli. It is sponsored by media groups and supported by the GNA’s Ministry of Culture and Civil Society.
So far, the Special Deterrence Force (SDF) has not provided an arrest warrant or any legal justification for the arrest, but Ahmed Bin Salem, spokesman of the armed group, stressed that it had nothing to do with the media award.
Yet, a relative of Qashout claims that the journalist had received several warnings before and after the award, which took place on March 28.
The IFJ calls on Fayez al-Sarraj, Prime Minister of the GNA, to make sure the two journalists are released without delay.
“It is the government’s responsibility to put an end to harassment, arbitrary detention, and intimidation of journalists in the territories under the GNA control,” said IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger. “The safety and wellbeing of journalists in the country must be made a priority”.
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