Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) is deeply saddened by the news that human rights activist and lawyer Salwa Bugaighis was killed on Wednesday 25 June 2014. Throughout her life she was a tireless advocate for the rights of Libyan women and her death marks the loss of a great voice in the fight for equality. LFJL wishes to send its sincerest condolences to her family and loved ones.
Mrs Bugaighis was attacked, on the evening of Wednesday 25 June, by five gunmen who broke into her home. Despite being rushed to Benghazi Medical Centre she died shortly after arriving at the hospital. Earlier in the day she was pictured voting in the House of Representatives elections. She had also made a brief appearance on Al-Nabaa TV in the late afternoon to discuss the recent deterioration of the security situation in Benghazi. Her husband, who was at home when the attack took place has also been reported as missing, suggesting that he has likely been kidnapped by her assailants.
Mrs Bugaighis was a key figure in the 17 February revolution, and went on to be the Vice President of the National Dialogue Preparatory Commission. She was a passionate defender of women’s rights in the country, a role which placed her at odds with those exposing extremist Islamist and ultra-conservative views.
Elham Saudi, LFJL Director, said “Salwa was an inspiration to us all, as lawyers, activists and women. We value her support of LFJL's work and will remember in our work going forward to make sure that her memory and tireless fight for human rights and reconciliation are honoured in whatever way possible. We are a lesser nation without her. Allah yarhemha.”
Violent attacks carried out by non-state actors on activists and legal professionals have been a regular occurrence since the end of the revolution. The murder of Salwa Bugaighis marks the further deterioration of freedom of expression and women’s rights in Libya. In the past the Libyan state has failed to respond to such attacks.
LFJL is deeply concerned by this inaction and calls on the state to investigate these crimes and hold those responsible to account. Saudi added “Salwa Bugaighis demonstrated in her last hours, when she was pictured voting, that she believed in a democratic Libyan state. The state must show its equal commitment to her by ensuring that those responsible for these violent attacks are held accountable for their crimes. As long as those who commit such abhorrent crimes enjoy impunity for their actions, the ongoing violence in Libya will continue.”