Violent conflict puts Libyan human rights defenders at serious risk
As militia groups battle for control of the country, human rights defenders in Libya face the risk of assassination, kidnapping and enforced disappearance. Human Rights Watch recently reported on this concerning trend, citing the disappearance of activist Jabir Zain who has been missing since September 2016.
In a separate development, political commentator and peace talks participant Salah al-Bakush, who was kidnapped in January 2017 and held for over two months, was finally released on 28th March 2017.
On 17th March 2017, peaceful anti-militia protesters gathered at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli demanding that the government and army take action to end the violence caused by armed militia groups fighting for control of the country. While the protest was taking place, supporters of Khalifa Haftar - head of the Libyan National Army - began to disrupt the protest by shouting slogans and firing arms in the air. There were no reports of casualties or injuries. Video footage of the disruption can be seen below.
Freedom of expression continues to be violated in Libya. According to the World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters without Borders in April 2017, Libyan journalists face serious dangers in carrying out their work, particularly due to the ongoing clashes between militia groups. In general, attacks against media outlets remain a serious concern. Though Libya rose one position on the newly-released Index, it still only ranks 163rd out of 180 countries.