By Sami Zaptia.
London, 18 October 2019:
UNSMIL called for the immediate release of HoR member Siham Sergewa and of all Libyan kidnap victims.
In its statement released yesterday, UNSMIL said that ‘‘Three months ago, Siham Sergewa, an elected member of the House of Representatives, was seized at night from her home in Benghazi. Since her violent abduction by armed men, Ms. Sergewa’s fate remains unknown.
UNSMIL continues to follow up on the enforced disappearance of Ms. Sergewa and similar cases throughout the country. The Mission reiterates that relevant authorities in eastern Libya have the legal responsibility to establish the fate and whereabouts of Ms. Sergewa. The Mission remains in close contact with the victims’ families.
Since the start of the offensive against Tripoli by “Libyan National Army” forces in April, UNSMIL has recorded an alarming increase in the number of enforced disappearances in towns and cities across the country, including in Tripoli, Benghazi, Tarhouna as well as in Murzuq.
Enforced disappearances, including based on political views or affiliations, are prohibited by the Libyan Penal Code, violate international human rights law and may constitute crimes against humanity over which the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction.
Ms. Sergewa’s enforced disappearance sends a message of terror to elected officials over their right to freely express themselves. Parliamentarians enjoy a legal immunity which is vital to protect democratic principles and freedoms. Targeting an elected official is therefore an assault on the democratic foundations of the state. It also constitutes a clear attempt to silence one of Libya’s prominent female voices and to intimidate other women seeking to participate in the country’s political life. Violence against women in politics in the form of physical assault, abductions, smear campaigns and all other gender related slurs is a human rights violation.
The United Nations condemns the abduction and the disappearance of Ms. Sergewa and the messages that her disappearance are intended to convey. We will continue to lift our voices to demand her release and that those responsible for her violent abduction be held accountable.’’, concluded the UNSMIL statement.