Geneva-Tripoli-Paris, June 27, 2014. The World Organisation
Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human
Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the
Protection of Human Rights Defenders, strongly condemn the
assassination of Ms. Salwa Bouguiguis, prominent Libyan human
rights lawyer and women activist, in a context where human rights
defenders, including lawyers, journalists, judges and public
prosecutors, are continuously victims of reprisals in the
On June 25, 2014, the day of the country’s general election,
Ms. Salwa Bouguiguis, a prominent Libyan lawyer and women human
rights defender, was stabbed and shot through the head by five
unknown hooded gunmen who broke into her home in Benghazi and
injured a security guard with a live bullet. She was taken to
hospital in critical condition, where she died shortly
afterwards. Her husband, who was in the family home at the time
of the attack, has remained missing since then. It is therefore
feared that he was abducted by the same men who killed his
Ms. Bouguiguis was a strong advocate for gender equality and
women’s political participation. She had also actively
participated in Libya’s 2011 revolution that overthrew the
regime of Muammar Gaddafi. A former member of the National
Transitional Council, she was since the Vice-President of the
Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue in Libya.
Ms. Salwa Bouguiguis was killed hours after she had returned
from voting in Wednesday’s parliamentary election in Libya and
called upon citizens to participate in the voting process. She
published photos of herself at a polling station on her
Facebook page. She also gave an interview to Libya’s Al-Nabaa
TV channel, in which she discussed the recent deterioration of
security situation in Benghazi where civilians are affected by
fighting between army units and militias.
“We condemn in the strongest term the murder of Ms. Salwa
Bouguiguis, which seeks to silence critical voices in the
country”, said today OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock.
“At this critical juncture in Libya the independent voice of
human rights defenders is ever more needed. We urge the
authorities of Libya to open urgent, effective and transparent
investigations into the shameful assassination of Ms.
Bouguiguis. It is absolutely fundamental now to set an example
in order to discourage further acts of violence against human
rights defenders”, he added.
Since the 2011 revolution, the city of Benghazi has been a
stronghold for militias, including jihadist groups, and the
scene of attacks and assassinations targeting notably the
military, police and judges.
The Observatory further recalls that this is not the first time
that human rights defenders have been targeted in Libya, where
they are increasingly victims of reprisals for denouncing human
rights violations, including serious acts of violence,
systematic harassment, intimidation, arbitrary detention,
torture and defamation. To date all these crimes remain
“The judicial system in any country is essential in providing
for the protection of human rights and civil liberties, and
must be allowed to operate independently and free from the
forceful coercion of outside actors”, said FIDH President Karim
Lahidji. “It should now ensure that the assassination of Ms.
Salwa Bouguiguis does not remain unpunished”, he added.
The Observatory offers sincere condolences to the bereaved
family and to Ms. Salwa Bouguiguis’ friends and colleagues and
urges the authorities in Libya to adopt urgent measures to
protect human rights defenders and ensure that they are able to
carry out their work without unjustified hindrances and fear of
For more information, please contact:
· OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: +41 22 809 49 39
· FIDH: Audrey Couprie: +33 1 43 55 25 18