December 21, 2011
Prime Minister of Libya
C/o Embassy of Libya
2600 Virginia Ave NW
Washington D.C. 20037
Via facsimile: +1 202-944-9606
The Committee to Protect Journalists has been monitoring with growing concern the difficulties that many foreign journalists have been experiencing in obtaining a visa to your country.
Until recently, journalists needed to contact the Media Centre in Tripoli, which would provide them with an official letter and inform immigration officials of their arrival at a designated port of entry. This practice has apparently ended and the delivery of visas has halted, effectively preventing journalists from entering your country on a professional visa.
Journalists who have spoken to Foreign Ministry officials say they have been told that a new policy has been set. As described to them, journalists are to apply at any Libyan embassy with a letter from a news organization. The embassy is to then contact the Foreign Ministry’s media and communications department and, upon approval, issue the visa.
But journalists have told CPJ that Libyan embassies are not uniformly aware of these new rules. In the absence of clarity, we call on you to announce a uniform and transparent policy, and to send clear instructions to all Libyan embassies allowing them to directly and expeditiously issue visas for journalists. It would be a solemn affirmation of your government’s will to defend press freedom and the free flow of information.
We hope and expect that your government will design procedures that will enhance the culture of press freedom, which is so decisive in the building of a new, democratic Libya. We will closely monitor the implementation of the new policy. Although we understand the challenges your government faces after the fall of the former regime, we believe the presence of international journalists in Libya is an asset essential to your nation’s successful transition.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your response.