x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Qatar to train Libyan journalists and help build free press

A small group from the Doha Centre for Media Freedom will depart within the next few weeks, with the aim of launching a training programme in Libya to last at least six months.

DOHA // Qatar is sending a delegation of media experts to Libya to help train the country's journalists as they enter a new era.

A small group from the Doha Centre for Media Freedom will depart within the next few weeks, with the aim of launching a programme in Libya to last at least six months.

Jan Keulen, the centre's director, said: "We'll be helping train journalists and will provide technical assistance. We'll consult with the NTC, media leaders, journalists and young activists." The exact details of the programme will be decided upon when the delegation, led by Mr Keulen, returns to Doha.

"We would also like to work on helping solve some of the humanitarian problems," Mr Keulen said. "There are more than 30,000 missing people and we could support local stations or set up a radio station to help locate them and reunite them with their families."

The details of the budget were not disclosed but the centre is financed almost entirely by the Qatari government.

"We are now in a new phase. Most of the military phase is almost finished and it's a very crucial time for building a civil society," Mr Keulen said. "People have been calling for freedom. If the media is doing a bad job, it could destabilise the revolution."

Members of Libya's media have suffered for decades of working under tight controls and censorship. Colonel Qaddafi's regime did not allow independent news channels, regularly restricted internet use and punished those who spoke out against the regime.

As the country prepares for a new government, the independent media industry is exploding. Five new television stations have launched this year. Two are based inside the country and the others are in Qatar, Egypt and Tunisia.

foreign.desk@thenational.ae