The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching the U.S.

Challenges: Libya faces challenges in establishing credible justice and security institutions. Given the security vacuum in the country, armed groups often fill that role, with varying levels of responsiveness to civilian authorities. The government has attempted to integrate armed groups into national security forces, but in many cases, highly factionalized militias or semi-official forces provide local security. In this environment, Libya has emerged as both a transit hub for foreign fighters and a permissive environment for terrorist organizations and transnational criminal networks. The internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) is based in the capital city of Tripoli. Since the summer of 2014, parallel institutions under the influence of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), based in the eastern city of Tobruk, have claimed to constitute Libya’s government and have acted as the de facto government in the east. The United Nations, represented by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), leads the U.S.-supported political reconciliation process between the GNA and LNA. This process was significantly challenged in April 2019 when the LNA initiated an offensive against the GNA in Tripoli to expand its territorial control and take over key institutions.

Goals: Since 2012, the U.S. Department of State has focused on developing the Libyan civilian security sector’s strategic planning capacity. On April 27, 2018, INL signed a Letter of Agreement with the Government of Libya defining mutual priorities for INL support to the Ministries of Interior and Justice. The near-term development priorities are to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Justice by rehabilitating and refurbishing the existing training facilities, providing basic training equipment, developing training curricula, and training police and judicial police officers. Future programming will continue efforts to support the modernization and development of legitimate criminal justice institutions in Libya.

Accomplishments: INL is a key supporter of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Joint Program on Policing and Security, co-funded by the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy, to assist the Libyan Ministry of Interior (MOI) and Ministry of Justice (MOJ) in advancing the delivery of effective and accountable policing and detention services through improved facilities, training, and coordination with the wider criminal justice sector.

  • INL’s support has resulted in the MOI establishing a restructuring committee that is working to define roles and responsibilities, improve organizational structures, and develop new policies, Statements Of Protocol, and a regulatory framework for the MOI.
  • The MOJ also established a technical working group charged with restructuring the judicial police and laying the groundwork for prison reform. The project has completed infrastructure assessments of key criminal justice institutions in greater Tripoli that will help INL prioritize capacity building interventions in the future.
  • In December 2018, INL supported the first group of corrections officials from Libya to attend Correctional Institution Management training seminars at the International Corrections Management Training Center in Canyon City, Colorado.
  • INL supported a United States Institute of Peace (USIP) assessment of 17 of the 20 Ministry of Justice (MOJ) prisons in Libya, as well as several non-MOJ controlled facilities. Based on the assessment’s recommendations, the MOJ closed several sub-standard prison facilities and began implementing other recommendations to improve policies and processes of existing prisons.
  • With INL’s support, USIP also completed a report entitled “Illicit Drug Trafficking in Libya: High and Lows” that will help Libyan policymakers, civil society, international donors, and partners to address the challenge of drug trafficking and consumption in Libya. Over the past three years, USIP has conducted INL-funded assessments in Libya to include: 1) Analysis of Illicit Trafficking and Organized Crime; 2) Analysis of Tribes as Security and Justice Actors in Libya; 3) Report on Prisons and Detentions in Libya; and 4) Analysis of Local Civilian Policing in Two Libyan Cities. These assessments have helped INL and the Department of State to identify additional program interventions for the Libyan criminal justice sector.

U.S. Department of State

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