International Group Demands Release of Journalists Detained in Libyan Capital
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called on Libyan rights organizations to release two organizers of the Septimus Award, accusing the Special Deterrence Force (SDF) of the Government of National Accord (GNA) of being behind their detention.
IFJ said that Suleiman Qashout, chair of the Septimus Award board, and Mohamad Yaacoubi, director of the award, were arrested at a café in the capital Tripoli on April 29.
It called on GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj to exert immediate efforts to ensure their release.
“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, according to a statement on the Federation’s website.
“The safety and well-being of journalists in the country must be made a priority”.
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.
The SDF has so far not submitted an arrest warrant or any legal justification for the arrest.
Ahmed Bin Salem, spokesman of the armed group, stressed that it had nothing to do with the media award.
A relative of Qashout claimed that the journalist had received several warnings before and after the award, which took place on March 28.
Civilians in Tripoli have long been victims of kidnappings by armed groups.
On May 13, masked gunmen stormed a pro-GNA television station and kidnapped one of its employees, Amer Hamad. He was found two days later near a hospital, suffering from severe nausea caused from a severe beating.
The National Human Rights Council in Libya confirmed Qashout and Yaacoubi’s arrest by the SDF, saying that no reason has been given for their detention.
It demanded their release without any preconditions, calling an end to arbitrary arrests in Tripoli.