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UN demands release of Libyan woman detained for expressing her views

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News briefing
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: August 2, 2022

UN experts called for the immediate release of Iftikhar Boudra, a Libyan woman arrested in Benghazi for more than 4 years, calling on the Libyan authorities to provide her with urgent medical treatment after she was subjected to various forms of violence while in detention.

We are gravely concerned about the sexual, physical and psychological violence to which Ms. Iftikhar Boudra has allegedly been subjected since her arrest,” the UN experts said in a statement published by the media center of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

A consistent pattern of violations against women in Libya:

In 2021, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) documented a consistent pattern of human rights violations that disproportionately affect women in detention centers in the country, even though they constitute a minority of all detainees.

Reported cases of abuse and exploitation include; inhuman conditions of detention, widespread torture, including sexual violence, and a critical lack of healthcare for detainees.

“The deprivation of liberty and violence she has been enduring is deeply gendered with the intention to both punish her for expressing her opinions but also to set an example for other women that may express similar opinions in the future.

t is also an example of an abuse of power of her vulnerability as a woman in prison who suffers from a precarious health situation” the experts added.

“Iftikhar Boudra’s arrest counts among a number of cases of women who have been targeted for their political beliefs and activities and is a demonstration of the specific barriers and challenges women face in exercising their freedom of expression” they said.

The experts reinforced this view with the findings of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya in its latest report, which alleged that Iftikhar Boudra was targeted for advocating against the lawlessness and militarization of the State in eastern Libya on social media and criticizing actions carried out by General Haftar’s armed group.

Military trials in eastern Libya:

The experts expressed their grave concerns about the repeated prosecutions and convictions of civilians by military courts in eastern Libya – including women and children – and warned that they constitute a direct violation of Libya’s international and national legal obligations.

“The incommunicado detention and ill-treatment of Iftikhar Boudra, the violence to which she has allegedly been subjected and the consequences of these inadequate detention conditions on her physical and mental health and life constitute grave human rights violations,” the experts said.

The experts called on the Libyan government to release Iftikhar Boudra, and to provide her with the immediate medical care and treatment she needs to recover from a series of series of grave injuries that were inflicted on her in prison.

They also called for psychological and other forms of support, as well as the provision of specific services to address the harms resulting from sexual violence she was subjected to in detention.

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