Qatar deports Libyan woman who said she was raped

Fri Jun 3, 2011 7:10pm GMT

DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar deported a Libyan woman who claimed that she had been gang raped by pro-government militiamen, after spending nearly a month in the Gulf Arab country, a United Nations refugee group said Friday.

Eman Al-Obaidi, who arrived in Qatar on May 11, was detained by Qatari officials Wednesday evening and forced with her visiting parents to board a flight Thursday to Benghazi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.

Al-Obaidi, who had been staying in a Doha hotel, is said to have fallen out of favour with Libyan rebels in Qatar.

A diplomatic source told Reuters the Qatari government was asked by Qatar-based Libyan rebels to return her to eastern Libya, where they are locked in an armed conflict against the rule of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"The Qataris would not have done this unless asked," said the diplomatic source, who declined to be named.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards described the action as "violating international law."

"Forcibly returning a refugee who survived gang rape not only violates international law, but is cruel and could trigger further trauma," Bill Frelick, refugee program director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement issued late Thursday.

"All eyes are now on the authorities in eastern Libya, who should allow Al-Obaidi to leave the country."

In March, Obaidi burst into a Tripoli hotel and, weeping, made a desperate plea to journalists, saying that she had been held for two days and raped by 15 militiamen loyal to Gaddafi.   Continued...

<p>Bruises are seen on the face of Libyan woman Eman al-Obaidi as she cries at a hotel in Tripoli March 26, 2011. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra</p>
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