Magdulein Abaida v. Libya

REDRESS is representing Ms Magdulein Abaida, a Libyan human rights activist. Ms Abaida was detained and questioned on two trips to Benghazi. During her second trip, Ms Abaida alleges that she was beaten and subject to death threats. In October 2013, REDRESS submitted a complaint to the Libyan Prosecutor General on behalf of Ms Abaida. The complaint requests that the Prosecutor General investigate the allegations by securing the available evidence concerning the incidents complained about; preserving and seeking disclosure of all relevant evidence, including custody records, in the possession of the relevant militias and Libyan authorities; and identifying all officials involved in the alleged violations with a view to prosecuting them where sufficient evidence of criminal conduct is available.


In the Summer of 2012, Ms Abaida took two trips to Bengazi. On her first trip, Ms Abaida travelled to Benghazi with journalists filming a documentary. On 19 July 2012, while in Benghazi, Ms Abaida and the journalists she was travelling with were arrested and interrogated by security forces. Ms Abaida’s possessions were searched without a warrant. Some of her possessions included a laptop, an Arabic version of the bible, and a book called Veiled and Unveiled by a Syrian writer called Natheera Zein al-Din. She was told that these items made her suspicious to them. They confiscated her belongings. She was questioned about her relationship to a Libya Jewish Representative and asked if she preached Judaism. After a period of four to five hours, she and the other journalists were released. The team of three foreign journalists left the country on 20 July 2012.

Ms Abaida travelled to Benghazi again in August 2012 fora workshop with the DCA on women’s rights in the constitution. On 9 August 2012, Ms Abaida contends the following: she was abducted from her hotel room in Benghazi by five men; she identifies the men that abducted her as members of the 17th February brigade (a militia group); she was detained until the next day when she was interrogated by representatives of the Defence Ministry; she was released but expected to return for further questioning on 11 August 2012; on this occasion, Ms Abaida was detained again and beaten and received death threats; she was questioned again on 12 August as well as on 13 August 2012. Ms Abaida was able to return to Tripoli on 14 August 2012, but was unable to continue her NGO and activist work. She received hate mail from unknown sources. Members of the public sent her letters which said that they would kill her if they saw her in public. Fearing for her safety, she left Libya and eventually arrived in the United Kingdom (UK) where she obtained asylum on 25 October 2012.

In October 2013, REDRESS submitted a complaint to the Libyan Prosecutor General on behalf of Ms Abaida. The complaint requests that the Prosector General investigate Ms Abaida’s allegations and take further action if and as appropriate. The Prosecutor General failed to initiate an investigation into the complaint.

As there was no alternative for Magdulein to find justice in Libya for the treatment she suffered, she turned to the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Magdulein filed her complaint with the Committee on International Womens Day, 8 March 2017. The Committee is the body of experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. 

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