| Apr 18, 2023
FFM concludes finding evidence of crimes against humanity against migrants and refugees in Libya
In March 2023, the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) released their awaited final report on their investigation of human rights and humanitarian law violations and abuses in Libya since 2016. Throughout its mandate, LFJL has strongly supported the FFM through the submission of evidence and information and have closely followed its work.
Within its report the Mission stated to have interviewed over 100 migrants on their experiences within Libya and on this basis of evidence, established that there are reasonable grounds to believe that migrants and refugees across Libya, especially within detention centres, are victims of crimes against humanity. There were a number of harrowing human rights violations and crimes against humanity that were found and documented by the Mission, such as trafficking, torture, sexual violence, enslavement and other inhumane acts. The Mission also found reasonable grounds to believe that Libyan officials within the Libyan Coast Guard, Stability Support Apparatus and the Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration had colluded with traffickers and smugglers.
The Mission further reported on the evidence of systematic torture within detention centres, which has contributed to suicides among migrants and refugees. Sexual violence is prevalent within detention centres, resulting in pregnancies, with evidence of migrants and refugees giving birth under extreme difficulties and without professional medical support. Enslavement, including sexual slavery, against migrants has been documented as occurring within detention centres. The report also highlighted the inhumane standards of hygiene and health – with evidence of overcrowding, lack of mattresses and cases of starvation.
Despite the findings from the final FFM report, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) have failed to establish a follow-up accountability mechanism. The resolution instead focused on technical assistance and capacity building. With the overwhelming evidence of crimes against humanity and dire human rights violations, LFJL continues to urge both the HRC to take appropriate action and the International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan to urgently open an investigation into these crimes and take the necessary steps to prosecute those most responsible.
Collaboration to push for justice and accountability
Over the last few months, LFJL has continued to build networks with Libyan and international organisations on monitoring and documenting the situation for migrants and refugees in Libya and advocating for protection and remedy.
As part of LFJL’s wider advocacy strategy and in the side lines of the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), LFJL staff conducted a joint mission to meet with numerous HRC special procedures thematic mandates, including contemporary forms of slavery and trafficking in persons, and other relevant UN offices in Geneva. The meetings were held to shed light on the situation in Libya and urge the mandate holders to advise and publicly report on the human rights situation of migrants and refugees – particularly important given the inadequate HRC resolution outlined above.
LFJL staff also attended a one-day workshop, organised with a number of organisations working on migration and refugee protection in Libya, to take stock of the present-day challenges and conditions including assessing the needs of Libyan civil society organisations working on the ground, and ways to assure their protection and the respect of their fundamental human rights. The workshop allowed organisations to exchange knowledge and information and to form a coalition that aims to develop common legal and advocacy strategies.
LFJL has also been following the recent hearings within Dutch courts for two Eritrean men, accused of committing crimes against migrants and refugees in Libya. The two suspects were alleged to have operated out of the notorious trafficking hub of Bani Walid, in north east Libya. The case focuses on Eritrean families in the Netherlands who were forced to pay traffickers for the release of family members in Libya. The Dutch Public Prosecution’s Office is considering charging the suspects on participation in a criminal organisation engaged in human smuggling, hostage-taking, extortion and violence including sexual violence under Dutch common law. Our legal team is exploring how advocating to expand the charges could further establish justice for the victims and contribute to non-recurrence, with a specific focus on the framing of the crimes as crimes against humanity, as opposed to smuggling.
LFJL will continue to advocate for the full respect of migrant and refugee rights by Libyan and European authorities. With the release of the FFM report and the failure of the HRC to establish a follow-up mechanism, it is more essential than ever to continue to call on the international community to act and to seek accountability for all perpetrators of gross human rights violations and crimes under international law.
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