Qatar deportation of Eman al-Obeidi violates international law
The Qatari government’s deportation to Libya of Eman al-Obeidi, who publicly accused Libyan soldiers of rape, is a violation of international law, Amnesty International said today. Eman al-Obeidi was deported by Qatari officials on Thursday to Benghazi in eastern Libya, stronghold of the opposition to Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi.“It is outrageous that Eman al-Obeidi has again been taken away against her will,” said Amnesty International. “She is a recognized refugee and this deportation is a serious breach by Qatar of its international obligations.” Law graduate Iman al-Obeidi was dragged out of a Tripoli hotel on 26 March by security forces and detained, after announcing to international journalists that she had been raped by Libyan soldiers loyal to Colonel Mu'ammar Gaddafi.After periods in detention, she was reportedly smuggled across the Tunisian border by defecting Libyan military officers. From there she made her way to Qatar. Al-Obeidi had been recognized as a refugee by the UNHCR, which considered that she would face a real risk of persecution in Libya. “Nothing can justify what the authorities of Qatar have done: they have compromised this woman’s safety notwithstanding the danger she clearly faces,” said Amnesty International. “After making such a courageous stand against al-Gaddafi’s men, it will be impossible for Eman al-Obeidi to remain anonymous. Her clear entitlement to international protection was totally disregarded by the Qatari authorities” said Amnesty International. The Libyan National Transitional Council, the de-facto authorities in Benghazi, now have the responsibility to guarantee Eman al-Obeidi’s safety. Amnesty International welcomes the Council’s assertions that Eman al-Obeidi is free to travel outside Libya; and urges them not to obstruct her departure. Under international law, countries of asylum, whether or not they are signatories to the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, are forbidden from returning refugees to their country of origin to face persecution.