Libya: Authorities Must Protect Two Sisters From Harassment

The Libyan authorities must put an end to the harassment and intimidation of two sisters allegedly accused of supporting the country's former leader, Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi.

Hasna Shaeeb and her sister Hala have been threatened, arbitrarily detained, interrogated and released without charge several times in the last two weeks. Both women have had their passports confiscated.

Hasna Shaeeb is believed to currently face an arrest warrant on unknown charges issued on the orders of Katibet Isnad al-Amn, a security force reporting to the Ministry of Interior.

"The Libyan authorities must clarify whether or not Hasna and Hala Shaeeb face any charges filed by the general prosecution. If they do not, they should ensure that the two women's passports are promptly returned to them and all necessary steps taken to ensure they are protected from further harassment or intimidation," said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Hasna and Hala Shaeeb were taken from their home in Tripoli on 4 September 2012 by a group of around 10 armed men who identified themselves as belonging to Katibet Isnad al-Amn.

The two women were arrested at their Tripoli home without being given a reason. Their relatives were not initially told where they were being taken. They were eventually detained at Riwami Prison, which is under the control of the Supreme Security Committee.

During her detention, Hasna Shaeeb was reportedly questioned about her alleged support for the former government and whether she owned a weapon.

Both women were released without charge on 7 September but their passports were withheld.

Following their release, Hasna Shaeeb was called back for questioning at Riwami Prison on 8 September and allowed to leave after signing a statement.

Both women were recalled to Riwami Prison on 9 September allegedly for further questioning and were detained until 11 September when they were released without charge.

"The harassment of Hasna and Hala Shaeeb is a strong example of the need for the Libyan authorities to prioritize the establishment of the rule of law and respect for human rights. Unless immediate action is taken to stop abuses committed by those who continue to act above the law, a large shadow will be cast on the ability of the country to break with the past four decades of abuses," said Philip Luther.

Hasna Shaeeb was previously detained for three days in October 2011 after being abducted from her home by a group of armed men in militia dress.

She has told Amnesty International that she was given electric shocks, beaten and whipped until she lost consciousness and had urine poured on her.

She said that the guards threatened to rape her mother if she did not confess to being an al-Gaddafi loyalist.

Following her release she submitted complaints through several official channels.

One night in March 2012 her flat was shot at and in June 2012 she received a phone call from the person who arrested her, as well as other anonymous threatening phone calls warning her to withdraw her complaints.

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