Urgent Appeal: Libyan Authorities Must Release Journalist Rida Fahil al-Bom Immediately

In Arab Countries, International Advocacy Program by CIHRS

Member organizations of the Libya Platform coalition[1] call on the executive authorities in western Libya, subordinate to the Accord Government, to immediately release Rida Fahil al-Bom who is currently being held in an intelligence facility in Tripoli. Al-Bom, a prominent journalist and human rights defender, founded the Libyan Organization for Independent Media and focuses on freedom of opinion and expression. For years, he has trained journalists to cover human rights issues, taken part in debates, and offered proposals on how to reform Libyan statutory law in order to protect freedom of expression. He has also documented violations of the right of freedom of expression in Libya against Libyan and foreign journalists and publicly exposed such abuses through his journalism and human rights work.

According to Platform sources, al-Bom disappeared last Saturday on 14 December 2019, after arriving at Mitiga airport, the only airport in Tripoli. He was returning from Tunisia where he took part in activities for Human Rights Day. Within a few hours, it became clear that he was being detained in an undisclosed location without charge and was being denied any communication with his family, who had waited for him at the airport gates for hours.

In a statement, the Interior Ministry stated that General Intelligence in Tripoli took al-Bom from the airport.

The Libya Platform holds the Libyan authorities in Tripoli fully responsible for journalist Rida Fahil al-Bom’s physical and psychological safety. We condemn the use of overly broad charges, such as communicating with foreign bodies to infringe upon the traditions of Libyan society, to retaliate against Libyan human rights defenders and journalists. We further urge the Libyan authorities to respect their international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as it relates to guarantees for the unfettered right of free expression.

The authorities must also ensure that he receives his full legal rights to a defense by only officially questioning him in the presence of his attorneys and bringing him before the Public Prosecution. The Platform also calls on the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression to urgently intervene to secure his release.

[1] Founded in 2016, the coalition’s vision is to create a space for meeting, dialogue, and coordination in order to develop and improve the efficiency of Libyan civil society and enable it to play an active role in promoting public freedoms and human rights by developing an integrated strategy for change and influence at various levels. The coalition members agreed on the following objectives: breaking the isolation between civil society organizations and human rights defenders working in the field both inside and outside of Libya, working towards better coordination, dialogue, and reflection among members of Libyan civil society to implement a common strategy for change. The Libya Platform also strengthens and improves the capacity of civil society organizations to play a more active role in local, regional, and international advocacy in order to work for an end to impunity, combating hate speech and violence, ensuring freedom of expression and association and peaceful assembly, and protecting journalists and human rights defenders. Finally, the Platform supports their participation in adopting peaceful solutions, monitoring the implementation of agreements, ensuring their involvement in the transitional period, and promoting a culture of peaceful coexistence and acceptance of others.

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