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Libya: Government must repeal new media rules

In Egypt /Road Map Program, Statements and Position Papers by CIHRS

The undersigned organizations, associations and media institutions call on the Libyan government to repeal its dangerous decision regarding audiovisual media. It poses grave risks to the diversity and plurality of the media landscape in Libya, and threatens the integrity of any upcoming electoral process.

On 15 September 2022, the Libyan government issued Decision n° 811 of 2022 on the conditions and requirements for audiovisual media activities. Decision n° 811 includes irregular stipulations that violate media freedom, such as requiring approval from security authorities or the Libyan intelligence service – and thereby allowing security and military authorities to intervene in the regulation of audiovisual media.

The committee’s lack of independence adds to the gravity of the situation. The Committee for the Regulation of the Work of Private Audiovisual Channels is supervised by the Department of Information and Government Communications at the Cabinet Office. Security agencies have a strong presence within the committee itself: it is headed by a former security officer and several members sit on the committee, including two representatives of the Ministry of Interior and the Libyan intelligence service.

The permission to practice is granted by the Committee for the Regulation of the Work of Private Audiovisual Channels, which was established in March 2022 by a government decision, n°151 of 2022. Permission is granted after media outlets meet a set of conditions that determine the legal status of media institutions and outlets that produce audiovisual content, and after they obtain a license from the Ministry of Interior or the intelligence service or tax administration, and pay the required fees.

The government’s decision requires that audiovisual institutions pay high fees ranging from 20,000 to 30,000 dollars for TV channels, and between 7,000 and 10,000 dollars for radio stations. These fees constitute unfair and prohibitive conditions, especially since channels are obliged to pay between 4,000 and 20,000 dollars each year to renew their license. These conditions threaten the viability of media institutions, which may find themselves unable to continue their activities if they do not attain security or intelligence service approval or due to their inability to pay the exorbitant fees.

While it is legitimate to regulate the audiovisual communication sector with the aim of ensuring the plurality and diversity of the media landscape and the transparency of media ownership; the undersigned organizations, associations, and media institutions stress that such regulation should not entail the government taking control of the media sector. The upcoming elections in Libya require the protection of media institutions from political tensions and any threats of closure.

The undersigned organizations, associations, and media institutions call on the Libyan government to withdraw this dangerous decision and to hold open and transparent consultations with media institutions, civil society organizations, and experts to draft a decision that respects media freedom, independence, pluralism, and viability.

Signatory organizations:

  1. ARTICLE 19
  2. Aman Organization against discrimination (AAD)
  3. Libya Crimes Watch (LCW)
  4. Adala for All ( AFA)
  5. Cairo institute for human rights studies (CIHRS)
  6. The Libyan Center for Freedom of Press (LCFP)
  7. Belaady Organization for Human Rights
  8. Jurists without chains
  9. Libyan Legal Aid Organization

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