Libya is a destination and transit country for men and women from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution. One of the most vulnerable groups is migrants, who typically seek employment in Libya as laborers and domestic workers or transit Libya en route to Europe. 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. Trafficking networks from Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, and other sub-Saharan states use a variety of techniques to hold people in conditions of forced labor and forced prostitution, including fraudulent recruitment practices, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding or nonpayment of wages, and debt bondage. Militias run numerous prisons outside of the government’s control, but as of March 2013, the government made formidable strides to gain control of over 70 percent of the prisons and detention centers, many of which hold detained foreign migrants. Private employers continue to recruit migrants in detention centers into conditions of forced labor on farms or construction sites; when the work is completed or the employers no longer require the migrant’s 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 times under false promises of employment. Once these victims cross the Libyan border, they are abandoned in the desert and further susceptible to severe forms of abuse and human trafficking.
In this reporting period, there were a few isolated reports of children carrying weapons and manning checkpoints. An international organization reported that boys between the ages of 16 and 18 were observed carrying weapons and manning a Tabu checkpoint, though their affiliation to an armed group or government force was unclear.
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 for a third consecutive year. During the reporting period, the Government of Libya failed to demonstrate significant efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders or to protect trafficking victims. Moreover, the government’s policies and practices with respect to undocumented migrant workers resulted in Libyan authorities detaining and punishing trafficking 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 conditions of forced labor with the complicity of prison and detention center guards.
Recommendations for Libya: Draft, pass, and enact legislation that prohibits all forms of human trafficking; increase law enforcement efforts to prosecute trafficking offenses; prosecute officials who are complicit in human trafficking; develop and implement standard procedures on identifying trafficking victims and providing victims with protection; ensure that victims are not susceptible to detention, deportation, or punishment for their unlawful presence in Libya; protect detained migrants from being sold into conditions of forced labor; ensure that trafficking victims are not punished for unlawful acts that were committed as a result of being subjected to human trafficking; 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 over the past year. Libyan law does not prohibit all forms of human trafficking. Previously drafted amendments to articles 336-339 of the Libyan criminal code, which would have criminalized trafficking in persons, were not adopted. While articles in the criminal code prohibit prostitution, sexual exploitation, slavery, and trafficking in women, the government did not report any human trafficking investigations, prosecutions, or convictions using these articles during the reporting period. Due in part to the government’s weak security and justice sector institutions, the government did not report efforts to investigate or punish government employees complicit in trafficking-related offenses despite multiple allegations of complicity. Reporting suggested some police were complicit in or failed to combat human trafficking during the reporting period. 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.
The Libyan government did not demonstrate discernible steps to improve the protection of trafficking victims during the reporting period. 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 identify proactively trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, such as foreign migrants, street children, and women and girls in prostitution or to protect trafficking groups from punishment for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. Trafficking victims were frequently subjected to detention, deportation, or punishment for unlawful presence in Libya as a result of being subjected to human trafficking. The government also did not demonstrate efforts to refer victims detained by authorities to protective facilities. Furthermore, authorities made no effort to protect detained foreign migrants who continued to be sold into conditions of forced labor by private employers on farms and construction sites. The government continued to work with international organizations to repatriate foreign migrants. The government showed no effort to encourage victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders. The government also did not provide foreign victims of trafficking 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 during the reporting period. Public awareness of human trafficking—as a phenomenon distinct from illegal immigration and smuggling—remained low in Libya, including among government officials. The government does not have a national coordinating body charged with combating human trafficking. During the reporting period, the government did not conduct any public anti-trafficking awareness or information campaigns, nor did it train officials on trafficking issues. The government, however, cooperated with international organizations to enhance its judicial capacity and develop a set of recommendations on combating trafficking, as well as to include anti-trafficking provisions into a national migration management policy. Libya did not take actions to reduce demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor, or to prevent child sex tourism abroad.