The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) conducted a training of Libyan journalists in April 2017 to sensitize them to rights-based reporting methods. This interview was conducted with one of the participants of that training. The transcript, below, has been edited for clarity.
My name is Mohamed Khaled Osman. I am a journalist at Radio Sada in the city of Zawiy [45 Km west of Tripoli].
I think trainings like the BRIDGE training are very important. They strengthen the knowledge of journalists about the rights of persons with disabilities and clarify some issues that they need to know in order to enhance the participation of persons with disabilities in the electoral processes in Libya.
Journalists are a reflection of society; however, [most] do not have enough knowledge about disability rights. Therefore, the training is an opportunity to raise the awareness of Libyan journalists who have negative perceptions and stereotypical views about persons with disabilities.
The BRIDGE training is important [for] raising the awareness of Libyan journalists and encouraging them to be involved in sensitizing society [on] the rights of persons with disabilities through media channels. We know that media play a significant role in raising awareness [and] cultural change, as well as changing society’s perceptions of persons with disabilities. Society’s negative perception is indeed a weakening environment for persons with disabilities. To change this, all means need to be used, especially media. Therefore, training journalists and raising their awareness [about disability rights] is very important and essential in changing society’s negative perception of persons with disabilities.
I think media has an important role in putting pressure on the government. Media is [considered to be] the “fourth estate” all over the world. It exposes the trespasses of the government and its [injustices] against the rights of persons with disabilities. Thus, the government will pay more attention to [correcting] its mistakes and take positive decisions by adopting procedures to enhance the accessibility of persons with disabilities and implementing existing [disability rights] laws in Libya. In fact, we already have laws about the rights of persons with disabilities in Libya, but they have not yet been implemented.
Media can play a significant role to expedite the ratification process of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). As civil society organizations and also as the Libyan Forum for Persons with Disabilities, we are seeking to put pressure on the legislative and executive branches in order to accelerate the ratification process of the CRPD. Media has a strong supportive role. It pushes the government to respond to the calls of the Libyan Forum for Persons with Disabilities and the calls of persons with disabilities to ratify the CRPD.