U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Libya

Libya (Tier 2)

Libya is a transit and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual and labor exploitation from Africa and Asia. Traffickers often falsely promise victims jobs in Libya to earn the $800 to $1,000 needed to pay for their onward journey to Europe. Once in Libya, some may be forced to work as prostitutes, laborers, and beggars to pay their trafficking "debt." There are an estimated 1.5 million illegal immigrants in Libya, some of whom are believed to be trafficking victims.

The Government of Libya does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government recently acknowledged that it faces a trafficking problem, which it has taken initial steps to combat. In a speech to the nation on March 2, 2005, Libyan leader Mu'ammar Qadhafi warned that Libya is threatened by international challenges that include "trafficking in humans – particularly women and children."

Libya needs to build on this initiative and develop appropriate policy to more effectively tackle the trafficking problem. This effort should include the appointment of a national anti-trafficking coordinator and the drafting and implementation of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law that punishes traffickers, provides for the protection of victims, and facilitates prevention programs.


During the reporting period, the government did not provide precise data on its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts and little evidence exists that Libya has undertaken any efforts to prosecute traffickers. African, Libyan, and European smugglers reportedly operate much like an organized crime syndicate, using deception to entice would-be victims. The government should improve its efforts to monitor and devise strategies to dismantle these rings and use existing criminal legislation to prosecute these criminals.


The government's efforts to protect victims remain inadequate. It should put in place a procedure to identify trafficking victims among the estimated 1.5 million illegal immigrants in the country and provide them with appropriate protection measures, including shelter, medical and psychological services, and repatriation and reintegration assistance.


Libya's efforts to prevent trafficking improved over the last year. Until 2004, the Libyan Government denied the problem and did very little to prevent it. Now, however, the government has started engaging other countries, particularly in Europe, to combat human trafficking. Libya needs to replicate these efforts by cooperating with source countries, particularly in the African continent. In June 2004, the Libyan Government organized a regional conference where affected countries discussed, among other concerns, trafficking issues. In October, it invited the IOM to discuss migration issues.


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.