Libya: A coordinated forensic response for victims of trafficking in persons and smuggled migrants

Firsthand insight from Libya’s forensic experts

Tunis, Tunisia – 9 September 2021  

Forensic sciences are at the heart of criminal justice investigations used by all modern law enforcement and justice services to solve all types of crime and bring justice to victims. One of the key elements in effective forensics is that the experts involved own enhanced coordination, knowledge, and capacities. For this reason, UNODC held a second in-person roundtable in Tunis for Libyan forensic services to build their capacities in the investigation of human trafficking and migrant smuggling crimes. The activity is part of the regional European Union (EU) funded project “Dismantling Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Criminal Networks in North Africa.”

The roundtable gathered six forensic experts from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) at the Ministry of Interior (MoI), representing the following services: Mass graves forensic investigation, Crime scene forensic investigation, DNA department, Serology department, Micro-Traces department, and the Fingerprint department. This event follows a first roundtable organized for magistrates and forensic experts from the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health. These roundtables aim to support Libya in building a coordinated and multisectoral approach to Forensic services across the country.

Two CID experts who attended the roundtable, Mr. Hussein AlZaidi, Crime Scene expert and Ms. Kalthoum Amara, Serology Forensic Expert walk us through their perspectives and needs for the roundtable and its substance.   

“I work in the MoI CID, we had equipped a laboratory in a great manner, but unfortunately the conflict in the South of Tripoli has led to the destruction of this laboratory. With the efforts of our team, we extracted some of the equipment and materials and restored some of the working capacity of the laboratory, with its management to 75-80% of its previous working conditions. When rebuilding, in my opinion, the first thing to consider is to interact with international experts and have field visits to international laboratories and gain an insight to how the international community work in the criminal forensics’ management field. This is what I think is important the most, including the training workshops,” Mr. Hussein AlZaidi, affirmed.

“There are many challenges facing forensic experts in Libya including expertise, and having the space to do our work, having the equipment, we also need to enhance our skills so that we reach an advanced stage of being proficient in forensic work. I also wish we gain ISO accreditation in our Toxicology work, for all departments,” Ms. Kalthoum Amara, Expert in serology and blood analysis and head of toxicology department at Libyan MoI spoke to UNODC.

The roundtable is a step to face these challenges, as it was organized to consolidate the action plan for forensic services dealing with human trafficking and migrant smuggling, develop recommendations for enhanced Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines, and strengthen the definition of roles and coordination between different services relating to the crime scene investigation. The Head of the Libyan delegation, Mr. Alalim expressed his thanks to the EU and UNODC for hosting this roundtable.

Ms. Amara affirmed how such involvement is crucial to her as one of the few females Forensic experts present in Libya, “Supporting female officers and providing the means for advancement in the workplace will encourage other women to join this sector without fear and freely."

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“I have personally enjoyed and learned a lot from this roundtable, linking forensics and human trafficking and migrant smuggling cases. It opened many areas of critical thinking for me – that forensic evidence exists and has a big role in addressing all transnational crimes, such as human trafficking, terrorism, sexual crimes, etc…We wish to contribute and support working towards addressing these issues … especially human trafficking as Libya is considered a point of crossing… We always strive to participate in such workshops and we hope that UNODC will help Libya in this work, in workshops, training, and equipment, preparing investigators and specialists so we can contribute in helping to solve this issue that faces countries of the Mediterranean,” Ms. Amara affirmed.

“With UNODC action plan built on SOPs, quality training, and equipment, we are confident we will be able to resume our work,” Mr. Hussein Alzaidi concluded.  

  

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“Dismantling the criminal networks operating in North Africa and involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking" is a three-year (2019-2022) €15 million regional joint initiative by the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) under the framework of the North Africa Window of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. The project consists of a regional intervention covering Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia to support the effective dismantling of criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking, while at the same time upholding the rights of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and vulnerable groups.

For more information:

Project Brief (EN)  (FR) 

Libya: Using forensics to hold criminals accountable and save lives

Libya: Empowered national forensic services to bring justice to smuggled migrants and victims of human trafficking

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