It has been a busy few months at LFJL! We are continuing our efforts to defend the most fundamental human rights of migrants attempting to reach Europe and have been conducting a lot of advocacy in order to highlight the impact that European policies have had on migrants in Libya.
In May 2019, we engaged with the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) of the UK Parliament, which had launched an inquiry entitled “Finding a diplomatic route: European responses to irregular migration”. In response to the FAC’s call for public participation, our written submission highlighted that the focus of the inquiry is flawed in that it seeks only to find ways to reduce flows of migration rather than to protect the human rights of migrants. We then highlighted our concern that British aid money is enabling the Libyan authorities to enact policies that violate international human rights law. These policies include the operation of migrant detention centres and the Libyan Coastguard’s practice of intercepting migrant vessels and forcibly returning them to Libya.
We also submitted a report to the Third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Italy, which will take place in November 2019. The UPR is a United Nations (UN) mechanism through which states assess the human rights records of every UN member state every four to five years. To do so, they consult the state itself, UN agencies and civil society to have a wide overview of the situation in the countries concerned. In our submission, we outlined our concern at the various measures the Italian government has taken in recent years to prevent migrants from traveling to Europe, above all the Memorandum of Understanding between the Italian and Libyan governments concluded in February 2017. Under this agreement Libya took on responsibility for intercepting migrant vessels at sea and returning them to Libya, where they are unsafe and are likely to suffer serious human rights violations including torture.
We have also been busy with our weekly podcast series that we launched in July. After two exciting episodes, for our third episode, we held a live event at the Conduit in London on 18 June. The event featured a discussion on the situation in Libya between LFJL’s Director, Elham Saudi, and two guest speakers: the award-winning Libyan-American writer Hisham Matar, whose memoir The Return won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, and the British activist and human rights expert Ian Martin, who served as head of the United Nations Special Mission in Libya between 2015 and 2018. The event also featured a performance from George the Poet, a London-born poet of Ugandan heritage whose podcast Have you heard George’s podcast won the 2019 British Podcast of the Year award. This was George’s second collaboration with us, following his podcast 'The Journey - Part II’, which explores the modern slave trade in Libya.
Going forward, we will continue to promote and defend migrants’ rights through our various projects. We are currently working on engaging in Libya’s UPR, which is scheduled to take place in May 2020. We intend to make a series of recommendations to the Libyan authorities to reduce human rights violations, particularly violations of the rights of migrants. We are also planning to travel to Geneva and Tunis to meet with other stakeholders to discuss this issue.
LFJL has undertaken a new project on enforced disappearances in Libya, which also affects migrants travelling through Libya. Through this project, we plan to file cases on this issue before relevant Libyan and international authorities and are conducting research to identify some cases and engage with victims.
We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of the project through GlobalGiving, however please don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list to remain updated and follow all of our work across our programmes. Many thanks again from all the LFJL team for supporting our work!