Leaders of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Federation of Arab Journalists (FAJ) and their affiliate in Tunisia – the Syndicat national des journalistes tunisiens (SNJT)– met last week the president of Tunisia, Béji Caïd Essebsi, to discuss issues relating to journalism and press freedom including the fate of journalists Sofian Chourabi and Nadhir Ktari who disappeared in Libya in August 2014.
Reports say that the two journalists have been kidnapped by an unknown Islamic group as they were setting off for the eastern city of Tobruk, after they covered for First TV the inauguration of the country’s parliament, and travelled through Derna, a militant Islamic hotspot.
“It was important to hear first hand from the country’s president details of the efforts undertaken by his government to find out what happened to these journalists,” said IFJ president Jim Boumelha. “With so many conflicting accounts, including reports that they have been killed, we impressed on the president the responsibility of his government to make representation to the Libyan authorities to find out the truth. Although there is no functioning government in Libya, the Tunisian authorities must increase their efforts of contacting all the various sides and seek the release of the journalists should they be still alive.”
The IFJ delegation was led by its president, its senior vice-president Younes M’Jahed and the SNJT President Néji Bghouri. The FAJ delegation included its Vice-Presidents Moaiad Lamy and Abdellah Bakkali.
Since early October last year, the IFJ has joined the families of the two journalists on calling for their release and backed their campaigns and protests pressing the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to demand that officials increase their efforts for their liberation.
The IFJ president welcomed the assurances made to the delegation by the country’s president of his resolute support to Tunisian journalists and their union in their mission and in defense of journalism and press freedom.
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The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 134 countries