| Dec 20, 2022
Building Networks and Demanding Action to Address the Situation of Migrants in Libya
Demanding Action from the ICC
One year on from LFJL's joint communication to the International Criminal Court (ICC), demanding that an official investigation be opened into the crimes committed against migrants and refugees in Libya that may amount to crimes against humanity, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has yet to take decisive action.
In light of this, on November 21st, in a joint letter with the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), LFJL addressed Prosecutor Karim Khan about the urgency of the situation, demanding that priority to a formal investigation be given. Despite commending the OTP's contribution to supporting the , particularly in the extradition of two key Eritrean suspects of human trafficking and human smuggling crimes in Libya to Italy and the Netherlands, LFJL emphasised that continuing to frame crimes against migrants and refugees exclusively as smuggling and trafficking instead of crimes against humanity, and thereby prioritising the jurisdiction of national authorities and regional organisations over its own, will not be enough to put an end to the ongoing cycle of impunity for Rome Statute crimes committed in the country. In fact, over the past year and in the absence of any effective accountability efforts, the situation of migrants has worsened, with of migrants and refugees having been reported dead or missing in Libya and at sea, while thousands more continue to fall victim to human trafficking and enslavement, with the most common forms of exploitation being abduction for extortion, forced labour and sexual exploitation.
LFJL thus urged the OTP once again to assess without delay the individual criminal responsibility of high-level perpetrators so as to facilitate criminal accountability, while also laying the groundwork to prevent the future commission of such crimes by deterring criminal networks and systems from emerging or continuing their operations. Moreover, in delivering recommendations to the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute (ASP) ahead of and during its twenty-first session in the Hague, LFJL reiterated this point, believing that the Court is best placed to capture the nature and gravity of the most serious crimes, and to complement domestic investigations that might be more limited in the types of crimes they prosecute.
Promoting and building an Advocacy Network
In September and October 2022, LFJL also had the opportunity to network with new partners, which are also working in the field of migration and refugee advocacy not just in Libya but across Europe.
After carrying out in-depth research to better understand UK asylum policy, including the Rwanda-UK deal, and how this impacts migrants and refugees reaching the UK who transited through Libya and who were more often than not victims of human trafficking, LFJL had the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with human rights organisations at the frontlines of challenging Home Office's Rwanda policy in the High Court. Avenues for future collaboration were explored, and we hope to follow up on new ideas in the New Year. Moreover, LFJL was also able establish a first contact point in Malta, with the aim of developing joint advocacy projects in the future that address the rights of migrants and refugees in Europe, and the human rights shortcomings European politicians and policymakers have continued to display in this regard.
Moreover, in an op-ed published for International Migrants Day on December 18, LFJL condemns Europe's approach in cherry-picking human rights principles and evading its legal obligations and humanitarian responsibility to offer protection to migrants seeking safety, dignity and livelihood at its borders. This is particularly the case in the Central Mediterranean, where Europe’s approach to migration has centred around border externalisation and pushbacks of migrants to Libya, as well as the obstruction and criminalisation of NGOs attempting to fill the humanitarian gaps. The op-ed also highlights the importance of transnational civil society networks in challenging governmental and intergovernmental agendas through formal accountability channels, in turning the dial on the narrative around migration, and in creating and mobilising strong and sustainable movements around migration issues.
LFJL hopes to pursue new partnerships across Europe so as to continue to expand and sustain its migration advocacy network, and thus provide stronger and more coordinated advocacy responses. Moreover, in light of new evidence brought forward at the end of this year, including that by Human Rights Watch and the ECCHR, LFJL hopes to explore new avenues to seek accountability for harmful policies, and justice for victims. 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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