U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Libya

Libya (Tier 2 Watch List)

Libya is a transit and destination country for men, women, and children from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Many victims willingly migrate to Libya en route to Europe with the help of smugglers, but may be forced into prostitution or to work as laborers and beggars to pay off their $800-$1,200 smuggling debt. Laborers from Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia are also reportedly trafficked to Libya for the purpose of labor exploitation. Although precise figures are unavailable, trafficking victims are believed to be among the nearly 1.5 million illegal migrants in Libya.

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. Libya is placed on the Tier 2 Watch List for its lack of evidence of increasing efforts to address trafficking in persons over the last year. Libya provided no evidence of any investigations or prosecutions for trafficking offenses. In addition, the government continues to summarily deport illegal migrants without adequate screening to determine whether any are victims of trafficking. Libya should take steps to articulate a national anti-trafficking plan of action, increase investigations and prosecutions of trafficking crimes, institute an effective screening mechanism to distinguish trafficking victims from illegal migrants, and provide protection services to victims of trafficking.


Over the year, Libya demonstrated limited law enforcement initiatives to combat trafficking in persons. The government provided no data on investigations, prosecutions, convictions, or sentences for trafficking offenses in 2005. In 2006, Libyan border patrol cooperated with Italian police to interdict a 33-person gang accused of trafficking and smuggling illegal immigrants, but reported no trafficking prosecutions resulting from these arrests. Authorities also prevented over 40,000 illegal migrants from entering Libya or traveling from Libya to Europe, although it is unclear how many of these men, women, and children are victims of trafficking. In August 2005, Libya reportedly signed an agreement with IOM to formulate a counter-smuggling plan of action, with future initiatives to include training of government officials and police on anti-trafficking measures. The government should take steps to enact a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, significantly increase prosecutions of traffickers, and institute a screening mechanism to adequately distinguish trafficking victims from the large population of illegal migrants deported every year.


Libya did not report providing protection to victims of trafficking this year. Trafficking victims, often intermingled with illegal migrants, are deported without receiving medical, psychological, or legal aid. Women found engaging in prostitution, including victims of sex trafficking, are imprisoned, prosecuted, and if foreign, deported. Women who file claims of sexual assault are generally taken into protective custody, which often amounts to detention; as such, victims of sex trafficking are deterred from making complaints for fear of imprisonment. Libya should refrain from punishing victims of trafficking for acts committed as a result of their being trafficked and should significantly improve the protective services offered to them, including providing repatriation aid and alternatives to deportation to countries where they may face retribution.


During the year, Libya took minimal action to prevent trafficking in persons. The government cooperated with Italian authorities to stem the smuggling of illegal migrants into Italy and other parts of Europe, but no efforts focused specifically on preventing human trafficking. The government should consider establishing a broad public education program to raise awareness on the dangers of trafficking.


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.