The United National Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has called on relevant authorities to address enforced disappearances in the country as part of a rights-based national reconciliation process.
“Families have the right to know the fate of their loved ones and the right justice,” it said in a statement on Wednesday, marking International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.
It expressed its solidarity with the countless victims of enforced disappearances and missing persons in Libya.
Libya knew cases of enforced disappearance immediately after the revolution’s outbreak on February 17, 2011 and the subsequent security chaos.
But these crimes intensified against the backdrop of political tension between areas and cities supporting the revolution, which toppled Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, and opposing it.
This phenomenon exacerbated after the political division in 2014 to “settle political scores between opponents.”
According to the statement, UNSMIL has documented disappearances of perceived political opponents, politically active women and men, human rights defenders, members of parliament, lawyers, and judges as well as migrants and asylum-seekers.
“Over the years, the whereabouts of thousands of women, men and children remain unknown.”
Acting Head of Mission Raisedon Zenenga said: “The Mission reiterates that the enforced disappearance of any person, even if they are released, is a serious violation of international human rights and humanitarian law and may amount to a crime against humanity.”
One of the most prominent victims of the phenomenon is Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) member Siham Sergewa, who was abducted in 2019 from her home in Benghazi by an armed militia that shot her husband and destroyed the surveillance cameras around her house.