United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech as he arrives in Beni, North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, September 1 September| Photo: EPA/Hugh Kinsella Cunningham
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech as he arrives in Beni, North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, September 1 September| Photo: EPA/Hugh Kinsella Cunningham

A report released by the United Nations in early September accused Libyan local and state authorities of being involved in human trafficking. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in the report that both local and state authorities in Libya are involved in the human trafficking of migrants. The UN said that the information it had received in order to write the report was "credible."

The UN mission in Libya, UNSMIL, continues to receive "credible information on the involvement of state and local authorities in contraband and migrant trafficking," said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a report on Libya released last week. 

The report said the traffickers' business model in Libya continues to evolve and adapt to an environment made increasingly difficult by instability and conflict. 

In a climate of widespread illegality, "armed groups obtain significant profits by imposing heavy taxes in exchange for protection services for traffickers' convoys," read the report. The UN panel of experts on Libya said it is concerned by the attempts of various groups to obtain legitimacy by pretending to support anti-trafficking forces with the goal of receiving technical and material assistance from abroad. 

Detention centers 'paradise for trafficking'

Meanwhile, Libyan detention centers including facilities at Khoms, Suq al-Khamis and Zawiyah have become "paradises for trafficking and possible forced disappearances." 

Since the start of the offensive in Libya on April 4, 2019, hundreds of people intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard have been sent to detention centers run by the Anti-Immigration Directorate and to unofficial centers controlled by militias, while others disappeared after disembarkation. 

The UN Secretary-General's report said requests to locate these people "did not receive any response on the part of the [internationally approved] Government of National Accord."

Citing UNHCR data, Guterres calculated that about 4,700 refugees and migrants are being detained in Libya, while Libyan authorities have spoken of thousands more prisoners of traffickers in centers to which UNHCR has no access. 

'Climate of impunity on human rights violations'

Guterres said he is concerned about the "climate of impunity" in the face of systematic violations of human rights, "particularly due to the void created by the weakness of law enforcement and the general lack of security." He said migrants and refugees experience tragic conditions inside the centers, as well as during their journeys toward the Libyan coast; and are "forced to go hungry, endure violent beatings, torture with heated metal, electric shocks, sexual and gender violence." 

UNICEF observed that nearly half of the women and young girls said they have experienced sexual violence in these camps. Many of them said they had to resort to emergency contraception in order to avoid falling pregnant.
 

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