In one such case, a media professional and women’s rights defender from Benghazi, left the country in late 2014 after numerous threats, including a text message threatening abduction of her son. Her car was struck, apparently deliberately, by another vehicle and a factory she owned was set on fire. She has continued to be outspoken – and has continued to be threatened – after moving abroad.
“On 19 October 2014, as she was walking to the train station, she was stopped by a car with Libyan license plates,” the report says. “The passenger threw a cup of coffee at her warning: ‘you…activist and journalist…next time it will be acid’.”
Another journalist and human rights defender received threats, including of sexual violence, on her Facebook page. “We will … come to your house and break your honour,” read one post. After fleeing Libya in August 2014, she continued to receive threats via Viber and text messages.
Another human rights defender left Tripoli in September 2014 after being repeatedly subjected to physical assaults, short-term detentions and abduction threats directed at his family.
“Civilians in Libya, including human rights defenders, have few or no avenues to seek protection or access to remedy for the harm suffered,” the report warns. “The breakdown of law and order has led to the failure of the criminal justice system in some parts of Libya, especially Derna, Benghazi and Sirte, while severe disruptions have been reported elsewhere. Justice sector officials…have been violently targeted by armed groups.”
The murders of several prominent individuals in Benghazi last year, including newspaper editor Muftah Abu Zeid, human rights defender Salwa Bughaigis, and two young civil society activists, Tawfik Bensaud and Sami al-Kawafi, remain unsolved.
Another human rights defender said she found a piece of paper on her car soon after the murder of Bughaigis in June 2014, stating “your turn is next.” Other defenders have had family members detained or abducted.