Libyan Labor Activist Detained

Nermin Al-Sharif
Nermin Al-Sharif

By The Maritime Executive 11-24-2017 04:17:53

International trade unions have renewed their calls for action over ongoing attacks on a Libyan trade unionist.

Nermin Al-Sharif, general secretary of the ITF-affiliated Dockers’ and Seafarers’ Union of Libya, is an advocate for human, workers’ and women’s rights both nationally and internationally. She has been subject to ongoing attacks, including several attempts on her life.

In the latest incident, Al-Sharif was detained for several days and had her passport confiscated, barring her from traveling to an international ITF event in Morocco where she was due to address women activists from around the world. Instead, she sent a video message to the conference. She was offered overwhelming support by the 250 participants on behalf of their unions, with the ITF committed to offering support to female transport workers victimized as a result of their activism. 

In London last week representatives from ITF Dockers’ and seafarers’ unions called for action over the campaign of intimidation and violence against Al-Sharif. In a collective statement they said:

"ITF Dockers and Seafarers strongly condemn the recent action taken against prominent leader of the Libyan Dockers' and Seafarers' Union, Nermin Al-Sharif. We demand that her passport is given back to her immediately so she can travel freely. We further demand that she is allowed to continue the important work she does for working men and women in Libya and elsewhere without restriction nor retaliation from any entity and that she is given the necessary protection from her government. Finally, we demand that any undue investigation against her must cease. 

“Nermin Al-Sharif's relentless work for the promotion of human rights in general, workers' and women’s rights in particular and a healthy democratic debate is admirable and must be allowed to continue without restrictions, detention threats nor threats to her life and health." 

ITF president Paddy Crumlin followed up saying: “We urge every trade unionist, every ordinary working woman and man, everyone who cares about human rights and the right to freedom and justice to support this campaign. These are fundamental principles, and we cannot afford to let them be eroded in this way.”

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has offered support to the appeal. General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: “Nermin is a well-known figure in the international trade union movement. She is an activist with countless years of experience and activity for the protection of workers. 

“The extreme and explicit violation of her human rights through violent attacks and most recently infringement of her basic right to freedom of movement, is symptomatic of a country where the rule of law is not respected. We are firmly behind this appeal and are offering every support to Nermin and to the ITF.”