On 2 July 2021, I wrote a joint communication together with the UN experts on enforced disappearances and the UN expert on freedom of expression, to the Government of Libya on the abduction and potential enforced disappearance of human rights defender Mr. Mansour Mohamed Atti Al-Maghrabi.
Mr. Mansour Mohamed Atti Al- Maghrabi is a human rights defender and journalist, head of the Libyan Red Crescent Society and the Civil Society Commission in Ajdabiya.
On 26 May 2021, Mr. Al- Maghrabi participated in a meeting of a joint committee formed by the Civil Society Commission and the High National Election Commission, which was aimed to prepare for civil society monitoring of the national elections scheduled for 24 December 2021. On 31 May 2021, Mr. Al- Maghrabi led a conference in Ajdabiya aimed at mobilizing citizen participation in these same elections.
On 3 June 2021, while driving in downtown Ajdabiya, Mr. Al- Maghrabi’s car was intercepted by armed men in three Toyota vehicles. The unknown men proceeded to seize the human rights defender and take him to an unconfirmed location. Since this date, Mr. Al- Maghbrai’s fate and whereabouts have been unknown. In the absence of any information, a group of human rights organisations addressed a letter on the matter to the Libyan authorities, urging immediate action to disclose Mr. Al- Maghrabi’s whereabouts, in possible response to which a circular was issued by the Ministry of Interior of the Government of National Unity stating that the legal protections designed to safeguard the rights of detainees in the country should be protected. No direct reference to Mr. Al- Maghrabi’s abduction was made in the circular.
Mr. Al- Maghrabi had reportedly previously been subjected to intimidation and harassment by the Internal Security Agency in Ajdabiya. On 24 December 2020 and 13 February 2021, the human rights defender was summoned for interrogation by the Internal Security Agency and questioned about his civil society work. During these interrogations, Mr. Al- Maghrabi was allegedly accused of being a dangerous individual promoting foreign agendas. On 7 April 2021, the human rights defender was arrested by Internal Security Agency agents at an event he had organised to promote youth participation in the planned December elections, and was again interrogated before being released.
Following Mr. Al- Maghrabi’s abduction, human rights defenders issuing calls online for information as to his fate and whereabouts have faced alleged hate speech and smears falsely associating them with ‘ISIL’. At least one defender has been summoned by the Internal Security Agency in Ajdabija and interrogated on the subject of his relationship with Mr. Al- Maghrabi, while a media outlet reporting on the human rights defender’s disappearance has been confiscated by the security agency, with its copies withdrawn from circulation.
In the communication we expressed concern at the abduction of Mr. Al- Maghrabi, which we fear to be directly connected to his civil society work, in particular his promotion of the electoral process scheduled for later this year. These concerns were expressed in light of the harassment and intimidation of Mr. Al- Maghrabi by the Internal Security Agency in previous months, which may indicate that the Agency had a role to play in his disappearance.
This is a shorter, adapted version of the original communication.