UN investigators revealed once more that migrants and refugees detained in Libya face serious abuse, with women especially facing sexual violence. The report highlights how females are forced to submit to rape in exchange for food. It also mentions the discovery of "dozens" of mass graves with migrants' bodies.
The UN’s Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya issued a new report reaffirming previous reports highlighting grave crimes against humanity being perpetrated in war-torn Libya. It specified that migrant women are often forced to endure some of the harshest abuse there.
The report stated that "(t)he mission has reasonable grounds to believe that the crimes against humanity of murder, torture, imprisonment, rape, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts have been committed in several places of detention in Libya since 2016."
Authorities, human traffickers, and other agents routinely detain migrants in Libya, which has become a major departure point for tens of thousands of people -- who mostly originate from sub-Saharan Africa -- attempting to reach Europe. Officials, however, have repeatedly denied such accusations.
The overall sense of anarchy that has reigned in the country since Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddhafi was overthrown and killed in 2011 has become a source of opportunity and profit for organized human traffickers.
Sex for food
According to the fact-finding mission's report, there is substantial evidence in Libya showing that migrants and refugees are systematically exposed to "protracted arbitrary detention." This includes the sexual abuse and torture of children.
The investigators who compiled the report after making numerous trips to Libya, detailed "acts of murder, torture, rape and other inhumane acts," to which migrants held in captivity are subjected. The report emphasized among other things the commonplace use of "sexual violence at the hands of traffickers and smugglers, often with the aim of extorting families."
"The mission has also documented cases of rape in places of detention or captivity whereby migrant women are forced to have sex in order to survive, in exchange for food or other essential items," the document said.
The report added, that many migrant girls and women are even aware of the risk of being exposed to sexual violence -- so much so that "some migrant women and girls get fitted with a contraceptive implant before travelling there to avoid unwanted pregnancy due to such violence."
The investigators cite examples of violent migrant abuse in Libya in their report; these range from one woman detailing how "her captors demanded sex in exchange for access to water" to summary executions of people dumped in dozens of mass graves.
Hopes of renewing UN mission
The UN fact-finding mission in Libya, which was created by the UN Human Rights Council (OHCHR) in June 2020, will have its mandate expire in just a few days' time.
However, several African countries has presented a draft resolution to the council to allow it to continue for another nine months, as the situation in Libya continues to be unstable and highly dangerous.
Mohammad Aujjar, chair of the Libya Fact-Finding Mission says that "the Mission has reported on serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, some of which amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes."
The mission has also drafted a list of individuals and groups believed to be behind some of those crimes, but is keeping it confidential for the time being.
"The aim is to put an end to prevailing impunity in the face of clear and persistent patterns of serious human rights violations, in many cases perpetrated by militia groups," Aujjar added.
"Now more than ever, the Libyan people need a strong commitment to helping them to bring lasting peace and justice to their country, and to establish a state based on rule of law and human rights."
With AFP, OHCHR