(Beirut) – The whereabouts of Seham Sergewa, a member of Libya’s parliament, remain unknown since armed men apparently affiliated with the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) abducted her from her home in the eastern city of Benghazi on July 17, 2019, Human Rights Watch said today.
Relatives of Sergewa and Benghazi residents with knowledge of the abduction said that LAAF-affiliated groups abducted her. However, 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.”
The abduction of Sergewa 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. Further, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has a mandate to investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Libya since 2011.