Libya (Tier 3)

Libya is a destination and transit country for men and women from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution. Migrants typically seek employment in Libya as laborers and domestic workers or transit Libya en route to Europe. Although precise figures are unavailable, there were an estimated 1.5 to 2 million foreigners in Libya at the end of 2010. Increasingly, an unknown number of migrant workers in the construction sector – particularly Filipinos, Nepalis, Indians, Bangladeshis, and sub-Saharan Africans – faced fraudulent recruitment practices, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding or nonpayment of wages, or debt bondage. Since February 2011, Libya has experienced internal unrest, stranding many foreign workers in the country under harsh and unsafe conditions which, in some cases, resulted in death. Some of those workers may be trafficking victims. Trafficking victims are likely to be particularly vulnerable to being trapped in Libya as a result of the confiscation of their travel and identification documents. As of March 2011, international relief organizations were unable to operate in some parts of Libya, exacerbating relief efforts. Some migrant workers were robbed by pro-regime Libyan soldiers, and a Red Crescent official said that soldiers have blocked about 30,000 migrant workers from fleeing into Tunisia and forced many to return to work in Tripoli. A media report asserted that some sub-Saharan African migrants were forced to fight with pro-government groups.

The number of migrants, including trafficking victims, who were smuggled to or through Malta and Italy were considerably smaller than in previous years due to Libyan and Italian joint naval patrols; however, migrants complained of very poor treatment and no efforts to identify trafficking victims among them. Migration to Europe has increased considerably since the onset of the civil disturbance. In many cases, smuggling debts and illegal status leave migrants vulnerable to coercion, resulting in cases of forced prostitution and forced labor. As in previous years, there were isolated reports that women from sub-Saharan Africa were forced into prostitution in Libya.

The Government of Libya does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and Libya is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a sixth consecutive year. Therefore, pursuant to Section 107 of the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, Libya is deemed not to be making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards and is placed on Tier 3. In the first 11 months of the reporting period, the Libyan government failed to demonstrate significant efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses or to protect trafficking victims. Moreover, the government's policies and practices with respect to undocumented migrant workers resulted in Libyan authorities also punishing trafficking victims for unlawful acts that were committed as a result of their being trafficked. Following the outbreak of civil unrest in February 2011, accurate information regarding the situation in Libya has become very limited.

Recommendations for Libya: Pass and enact legislation that prohibits all forms of trafficking; increase law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses; implement standard procedures on identifying trafficking victims and provide victims with protection; investigate and prosecute officials who are complicit in human trafficking; ensure that victims are not susceptible to deportation or punishment for their unlawful presence in Libya; and undertake an information campaign to raise public awareness of the problem of human trafficking.


The Government of Libya demonstrated negligible law enforcement efforts over the past year. Libyan law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking. In November 2010, the General People's Committee for Justice drafted amendments to Articles 336-339 of the Libyan Criminal Code, which would criminalize trafficking in persons, although some of the definitions, as drafted, appear overly broad. The draft amendments were reportedly submitted to the General People's Congress for review and approval. While articles in the criminal code prohibit prostitution, sexual exploitation, slavery, and trafficking in women, there was no indication that the government used these statutes to prosecute trafficking offenses during the reporting period. A 2009 Human Rights Watch (HRW) publication included interviews indicating that some police were complicit in human trafficking activities.


The Libyan government took minimal steps to improve the protection of trafficking victims during the reporting period. The government did not develop or implement procedures for authorities' proactive identification of trafficking victims, nor did it demonstrate efforts to refer victims detained by authorities to protective facilities. In the first 11 months of the reporting period, the government continued to refer vulnerable migrants on an ad hoc basis to international organizations or relief workers; some of these were likely trafficking victims. During parts of the reporting period, the government continued to provide office space in some detention centers where relief workers provided medical and psychological care for an unknown number of detainees, which likely included trafficking victims. The government forced some employers to fund costs of repatriation of some foreign migrant workers who were abused; some of the workers may have been trafficking victims.

International organizations reported that conditions in detention centers worsened significantly since the launch of the Libyan-Italian joint naval patrols in May 2009 and, along with rights groups, expressed concern that the joint patrols return all interdicted migrants to the country without screening for victims of trafficking. The government did not actively encourage victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders. The government did not have procedures to identify trafficking victims among undocumented migrants, and thus trafficking victims were often subject to deportation or punishment for their unlawful presence in Libya as result of being trafficked. A 2009 HRW report quoted an observer as saying that migrants can be detained "from a few weeks to 20 years." The same report noted that Libyan authorities regularly beat groups of undocumented African migrants who were returned to Libya by Italian law enforcement officials after the migrants' failed attempt to sail from Libya to Italy, and recent Amnesty International research indicates that Libya subjects detained undocumented migrants to torture. The government also did not provide foreign victims of trafficking with legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they faced hardship or retribution.


The Government of Libya made minimal efforts to prevent human trafficking. Public awareness of human trafficking – as a phenomenon distinct from illegal immigration and smuggling – remained low in Libya, including among government officials. During the reporting period, the government did not conduct any anti-trafficking public information campaigns. However, the government-funded World Islamic Call Society undertook some information campaigns to raise public awareness of the problem of human trafficking. The government provided translation services and meeting venues to support some IOM anti-trafficking programs. The government did not display transparency in its anti-trafficking efforts as it did not publicly report on its policies or activities to combat human trafficking. Libya did not take actions to reduce demand for commercial sex acts or to prevent child sex tourism committed abroad by Libyan nationals.


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