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Libya - World Report 2009

160 out of 173 in the latest worldwide index

-  Area: 1,759,540
-  Population: 5 million
-  Language: Arabic
-  Head of state: Muammar Gaddafi since 1969

Libya has over the past 18 months continued its return to the international scene that began four years earlier with the ending of sanctions in 2004. The country has been president of the UN Security Council since 1st March 2009.

Even though the country remains closed, frequent statements by Seif al-Islam, one of the sons of Colonel Gaddafi, in support of media independence and the need for a civil society, have begun to bear fruit. The first non-governmental media were authorised in 2007 leading to the launch by private company al-Ghad of two newspapers (Oea and Cyrene) as well as a television channel. However they are still controlled by the immediate entourage of Muammar Gaddafi, al-Ghad, being owned by Seif al-Islam Gaddafi. These media do however enjoy greater freedom than the government media. But any criticism of the Supreme Guide remains a crime of lese-majeste and self-censorship is practised by the vast majority of journalists.

Agence France-Presse was able to open a bureau in Tripoli at the end of 2008 and its permanent correspondent, a foreign journalist, obtained accreditation. The correspondent for the first online newspaper also obtained accreditation during the year.

On 23 February 2009, al-Ghad announced authorisation for 90 Arabic and foreign publications to be sold in Libya again, ending a 25-year ban. The western press however remains doubtful about the results of the regime’s changes in regard to the private press...

The organisation has, since the start of 2009, had no information about the investigation into the disappearance of journalist Abdullah Ali al-Sanussi al-Darrat, since he was imprisoned in 1973.

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