UN says 'deeply concerned' over Libyan activist abduction

UN says 'deeply concerned' over Libyan activist abduction
Activist Al-Moatassim Al-Areebi was abducted in the Libyan city of Misrata alongside another person, who was later released.
2 min read
In May, a member of eastern-based House of Representatives was abducted in the city of Benghazi [Getty]

The United Nations on Wednesday said it was "deeply concerned" over a Libyan activist's recent abduction and called on authorities to "secure his safe and immediate release".

Reports on Monday said political activist Al-Moatassim Al-Areebi was abducted by an unknown armed group in Misrata, about 190 kilometres (120 miles) east of the capital Tripoli.

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) "is deeply concerned by reports of another abduction, this time in Misrata", said the statement.

Kidnappings are not uncommon in the restive North African country, including in May, when an elected member of Libya's eastern-based House of Representatives was abducted in the city of Benghazi.

The UN mission called on "law enforcement agencies to urgently investigate the abduction of Mr. Al-Areebi, disclose his whereabouts, and secure his safe and immediate release".

Areebi was reportedly abducted along with another person, Mohamed Shtewi, who "was released after being beaten", UNSMIL said.

Libya has been wracked by division and unrest since the 2011 NATO-backed overthrow of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

It is currently divided between two rival administrations based in Tripoli and Benghazi.

UNSMIL on Wednesday also called for "the immediate and unconditional release of all arbitrarily detained individuals" in the conflict-plagued country.

It said it has "documented cases of at least 60 individuals currently detained across the country for their actual or perceived political affiliation".

"Reports of arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment, torture, and deaths in custody committed with impunity continue to plague Libya," it added.

"These unlawful practices have created a climate of fear, shrinking civic space, and eroding the rule of law."

Speaking before the 56th session of the Human Rights Council on Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said the "targeting of political opponents and dissenting voices across the country has accelerated" in recent years.

"Ongoing lack of accountability for those violations and abuses 13 years ago remains one of the serious obstacles to reconciliation today, and serves as a driver of conflict," he added.

In 2019, Siham Sergewa, another representative, was abducted in Benghazi and remains missing.

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