Libya is a destination and transit country for men and women from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution. Migrants seeking employment in Libya as laborers or domestic workers or who transit Libya en route to Europe are vulnerable to trafficking. While in Libya, many migrant men are forced into manual labor, and there are credible reports of prostitution rings involved in sex trafficking of sub-Saharan women in brothels, particularly in southern Libya. Some Nigerian women are reportedly forced into prostitution, while Eritreans, Sudanese, and Somalis are at risk of and subjected to labor trafficking in Libya. Trafficking networks reaching into Libya from Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, and other sub-Saharan states use a variety of techniques to hold people in forced labor and forced prostitution, including fraudulent recruitment practices, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding or nonpayment of wages, and debt bondage. One account indicates some Sudanese migrants are recruited to Libya by criminal groups through false job offers and are subsequently forced to work in agriculture with little or no pay. Militias run numerous prisons outside the government’s control; however, as of March 2014, the government gained control of many prisons and detention centers, including 20 detention centers designated for foreign migrants now under the nominal control of the Ministry of Interior’s Department for Combatting Illegal Migration. Regardless, private employers continue to recruit migrants in detention centers into forced labor on farms or construction sites; when the work is completed or the employers no longer require the migrants’ labor, employers return the migrants to detention. NGOs report that migrant flows are steadily returning to their pre-revolution levels. Migrants pay smuggling fees of the equivalent of approximately $800-$1,000 to reach Tripoli, often under false promises of employment or eventual transit to Europe. Once these victims cross the Libyan border, they are sometimes abandoned in southern cities or even the desert, where they are susceptible to severe forms of abuse and human trafficking. In this reporting period, there were allegations that militia groups, which the government sometimes relies upon to provide security, conscripted children under the age of 18. There were also reports that other informal military units recruited persons under the age of 18 into their ranks.
The Government of Libya does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; therefore Libya is placed on Tier 3. During the reporting period, the Government of Libya failed to demonstrate efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders or to identify and protect trafficking victims. Moreover, Libyan authorities continued to treat trafficking victims as undocumented illegal migrants and frequently detained and punished victims for unlawful acts that were committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. There continued to be reports that detained foreign migrants were sold into forced labor with the complicity of prison and detention center guards. During the reporting period, there were allegations that militia groups, some of which provide security on behalf of the government, and other informal military units recruited and used children under 18-years-old.
Recommendations for Libya:
Draft, pass, and enact legislation that prohibits all forms of human trafficking; build law enforcement capacity to investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders, including officials who are complicit in human trafficking; ensure that victims are not susceptible to detention, deportation, or punishment for their unlawful presence in Libya; protect detained migrants from being sold into forced labor; ensure that trafficking victims are not punished for unlawful acts that were committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking, such as immigration or prostitution violations; develop and implement standard procedures on identifying trafficking victims and providing victims with protection; continue to provide anti-trafficking training to law enforcement and judicial officials; ensure that children are not used and recruited into government or government-affiliated armed forces, and protect children from recruitment into non-government armed militias; and undertake an information campaign to raise public awareness about forced labor and sex trafficking.
The government did not demonstrate discernible anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Libyan law does not prohibit all forms of human trafficking. Though draft amendments to Articles 336-339 of the Libyan criminal code criminalize trafficking in persons, the government has not adopted the amendments, which were first drafted in November 2010. While articles in the penal code prohibit sexual exploitation, slavery, child prostitution, and trafficking in women for the purpose of prostitution, the government did not report any human trafficking investigations, prosecutions, or convictions using these articles during the reporting period, which is part of a larger incapacity of the government to enforce rule of law across the country. The government did not report efforts to investigate or punish government employees complicit in trafficking-related offenses despite multiple allegations of complicity. There were unverified reports that some officials were complicit in facilitating or failed to combat human trafficking during the reporting period. For example, prison officials and detention camp guards allowed private employers to force detained migrants to work on farms or construction sites for an unspecified amount of time with no pay; there was no evidence that the government investigated or punished these officials. A Libyan official allegedly subjected one or two young Ugandan women to labor trafficking in Libya in 2013; the Libyan government, however, did not report initiating an investigation of these allegations. In March 2013, the government hosted a conference on combating human trafficking for officials from multiple ministries to discuss inter-ministerial cooperation on various anti-trafficking issues. In April 2013, the Ministry of Interior coordinated with an international organization to provide anti-trafficking training for 25 Libyan law enforcement officers at the National Police Technical Training College in Tripoli.
The Libyan government did not demonstrate discernible steps to improve the protection of trafficking victims. The government did not have any policy structures, regulations, or resources dedicated to the specific provision of protective services to trafficking victims. The government did not develop or implement procedures for authorities to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, such as foreign migrants, street children, and women and girls in prostitution, nor did it protect trafficking victims from punishment for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. Trafficking victims were frequently treated as illegal migrants and subjected to detention, punishment, and deportation for various offenses, including prostitution and illegally working and residing in Libya. The government did not refer victims detained by authorities to protective facilities, such as those run by international or local NGOs. Furthermore, authorities made no effort to protect detained foreign migrants, who continued to be sold into forced labor by private employers on farms and construction sites. The government failed to take measures to protect children who were allegedly recruited by militia groups, which may be aligned with the government, as well as children recruited by informal military units. The government did not encourage victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders. The government continued to work with international organizations to repatriate foreign migrants, but did not screen for trafficking indicators. The government also did not provide foreign trafficking victims with legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they faced hardship or retribution.
The Government of Libya made no discernible efforts to prevent human trafficking. The government did not have a national coordinating body responsible for combating human trafficking, but it worked with international organizations to develop a national migration management policy, which included anti-trafficking provisions. The government did not conduct any public anti-trafficking awareness or educational campaigns, nor did it take actions to reduce demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor or to prevent child sex tourism abroad. While ministerial regulations prohibited the recruitment and use of child soldiers, these regulations were poorly enforced due to the government’s inability to control militia groups and affiliated and quasi-affiliated armed groups operating throughout the country.