Nermin Al-Sharif gets passport back, thanks to union campaign

Libyan trade union leader Nermin Al-Sharif has had her passport returned and is now free to travel, following huge union support for an ITF and LabourStart appeal.

Nermin, general secretary of the ITF-affiliated Dockers’ and Seafarers’ Union of Libya, was detained for several hours and had her passport confiscated, barring her from travelling to an international ITF women activists event in Morocco. She has been subject to ongoing attacks, including an attempt on her life earlier this year.

The ITF/LabourStart campaign attracted the support of over 6,800 people from 141 countries and territories.

Ms Al-Sharif said: “Thanks to the ITF and its members, I haven’t felt that I am alone. With this mass of supportive messages, the authorities who took actions against me had to listen, sit with me and assure me that I am free now. The fast response from the ITF family is something that gave me real strength. Long live the ITF.”

ITF Arab World regional secretary Bilal Malkawi commented that the campaign was the main reason for this development, and was another powerful demonstration that the global ITF family would not tolerate the repression and persecution of trade unionists going about their lawful business. He added that he hoped the move was the start of a fundamental change in the behaviour of the Libyan authorities.

In November, representatives from ITF dockers’ and seafarers’ unions issued a collective statement demanding the immediate return of Nermin’s passport, that she be allowed to work without restriction and be given government protection.

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