Human Rights Commissioner Kofler on the sentencing of a journalist in Libya

04.08.2020 - Press release

Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (4 August) on the sentencing of Libyan journalist Ismail Bouzreeba al-Zway:

The sentencing of journalist Ismail Bouzreeba al-Zway by a military tribunal in Benghazi to 15 years’ imprisonment greatly concerns me. The trial, which took place behind closed doors and evidently without the accused having had access to legal representation, indicates a complete disregard for rule-of-law principles and casts a grim light on the human rights situation in eastern Libya. The charges suggest serious abuse of anti-terror laws with the goal of restricting freedom of opinion and freedom of the press. I urgently appeal to the decision-makers in eastern Libya to release Ismail Bouzreeba al-Zway immediately until the allegations can be clarified transparently and in accordance with rule-of-law principles.

Background information

On 31 July 2020, Libyan photojournalist Ismail Bouzreeba al-Zway was sentenced by a military tribunal to 15 years’ imprisonment. In 2018, while reporting on local news, 39-year-old al-Zway was arrested in his home town of Ajdabiya, eastern Libya, by Libyan security forces on the basis of unclear, terrorism-related allegations. The sentencing has also been sharply criticised by Libyan non-governmental organisations working to promote freedom of the press. These include the Libyan Centre for Freedom of Press, which receives Federal Foreign Office support.


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