Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) has continued to monitor, raise awareness and conduct advocacy around the situation of refugees and migrants trapped in Libya.
In June 2022, the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya (FFM) reported that persistent impunity is to blame for ongoing crimes committed against refugees and migrants in Libya. The FFM also attributed the involvement of new actors, for example the Stability Support Authority (SSA) militia, in the commoditisation, exploitation and abuse of refugees and migrants to the climate of total impunity. The FFM will deliver its final report in March 2023 which is expected to present further conclusive findings and recommendations in relation to the crimes and abuses committed against refugees and migrants in Libya.
In recent months, there has been increased incidence of sea and land tragedies involving refugees and migrants, including one shipwreck in June that left at least 30 people missing and feared dead. In the same month, the Libyan authorities reported finding the bodies of 20 refugees and migrants who died from thirst in the desert close to the border with Chad.
In June and July alone, over 4,000 refugees and migrants were intercepted and returned to Libya according to IOM (the UN’s Organisation for Migration). In August 2022, Human Rights Watch released evidence to support the claim that Frontex, the EU Border agency, has installed a network of aerial surveillance over the Mediterranean Sea which facilitates interceptions and returns to Libya. Meanwhile, MSF recently released a report underling the impossibility of protecting refugees and migrants inside Libya and the inefficacy of existing legal pathways to safety. The report proposes alternative pathways for protection.
As a London-based organisation, LFJL has also been monitoring changes to asylum and migration policies in the UK and the implications of the Nationalities and Borders Act 2022 – including a controversial policy which sets to remove to Rwanda asylum seekers and potential victims of trafficking, including those who may have travelled through Libya, who arrived in the UK via what the UK government has termed “illegal, dangerous or unnecessary methods.” Rwanda removals have been heavily criticized by lawyers and human rights organisations as being fundamentally at odds with the UN Refuge Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
The situation for refugees and migrants in Libya, and in countries further along the Central Mediterranean Route, remains perilous. LFJL continues to raise awareness of their plight and advocate for policy changes to improve the situation while also exploring legal channels to challenge the current policies and seek justice for victims.
Highlights of LFJL’s awareness raising initiatives have included Head of Advocacy and Outreach, Marwa Mohamed’s guest appearance on the Asymmetrical Haircuts podcast alongside Sally Hayden, author of My Fourth Time, We Drowned. During the episode, Marwa and Sally unpack detention, monetisation and other abuses committed against refugees and migrants in Libya, and the effect of strict European Union border policies.
On LFJL’s own podcast Libya Matters, Marwa Mohamed and Programmes Officer, Mae Thompson discussed access to truth, justice and accountability for refugees and migrants that have suffered gross human rights violations in Libya with renowned champion for refugees’ rights, Lord Alf Dubs.
On 2 June 2022, Marwa Mohamed represented LFJL on a panel at the European Parliament to discuss the situation of refugees and migrants in detention centres in Libya. The Panel was coordinated by the Socialists and Democrats Group – the second largest political group in the European Parliament – and chaired by MEP and Chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee, Maria Arena. The panel discussion and question and answer session was followed by a screening of “Libya: No Escape from Hell” directed by Sara Creta.
LFJL has also continued its advocacy efforts in relation to the ICC and other international accountability mechanisms, and is also exploring other avenues of accountability, for example, through domestic channels.
LFJL is currently exploring ways in which we can offer support and protection to refugees, asylum seekers and victims of trafficking who may have been subjected to human rights violations in Libya during their journeys and who are facing further challenges following their arrival in the UK, particularly in light of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 and its implications. Stay tuned and check the project homepage for the latest updates and to find out how you can support this work.
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