HRW to Libya: Reveal missing politician’s whereabouts


The abduction of Seham Sergewa, a member of Libya’s parliament, is among the crimes that could be investigated by the fact-finding body established on June 22, 2020 by the United Nations Human Rights Council with the objective of investigating violations by all sides in Libya, Human Rights Watch said.

Sergewa’s whereabouts remain unknown since armed men affiliated with the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) abducted her from her home in the eastern city of Benghazi on July 17, 2019, according to Ms. Sergewa’s relatives and Benghazi residents with knowledge of the abduction.

The Interim Government, the authority effectively governing eastern Libya, has blamed “terrorist groups who infiltrated Benghazi” for the abduction, but never substantiated this claim.

The LAAF, the armed group allied with the Interim Government and commanded by Khalifa Hiftar, denied any role in the incident.

“The LAAF leadership, including Khalifa Hiftar and the Interim Government, need to come clean about what they have been doing to find out who abducted Seham Sergewa and where she is,” said Hanan Salah, senior researcher on Libya at Human Rights Watch.

“Military and civilian authorities in eastern Libya need to know that if they fail to prevent or prosecute serious crimes by their subordinates, they too can be held responsible by domestic or international bodies.”

Governance in Libya remains divided between the two entities engaged in an armed conflict since April 2019: the internationally recognized and Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and the rival Interim Government based in eastern Libya and affiliated with the armed group known as the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF).

The Libya fact finding body was established after the African Group at the Human Rights Council put forward a resolution to Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, for its formation.

The purpose of the fact-finding mission is to investigate violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by all parties to the Libya conflict since the beginning of 2016.

The resolution also included preserving evidence with a view to ensuring that those responsible for abuses are held accountable. The resolution passed by consensus. (Source: HRW)