Libya: Using forensics to hold criminals accountable and save lives

10 November 2020 - Tripoli, Libya 

Through forensics, the smallest piece of evidence can provide invaluable information and bring solid evidence to the court. Forensic analysis can help create linkages with other investigations, which can help in identifying, within short time frames, human trafficking and migrant smuggling criminal networks. Recently, UNODC and the European Union Border Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM-Libya) conducted a two-day hybrid workshop on forensic analysis. The workshop is part of continuous efforts to enhance Libyan authorities’ forensic analysis capabilities under the project “Dismantling human trafficking and migrant smuggling criminal networks in North Africa” funded by the European Union.

The primary objective of this joint action was to strengthen forensic services and chain of custody in Libya and develop a strategic roadmap that identifies short, medium, and long term priorities in terms of capacities such as training, standard operating procedures, and priority equipment to ensure that reliable, probative and scientifically based evidence is available to support criminal investigations in Libya.

The participants discussed how forensic science can be used for traditional court evidence to build cases on physical evidence rather than only on confession, as an investigative process for operational crime analysis and to gather intelligence to detect organized crime. When organized criminal networks are held accountable and stopped, many lives could be saved.
Forensic sciences are versatile and can support investigations and criminal analysis of any type of crime. For example, appropriate seizure and forensic analysis of drugs can assist in the identification of the point of origin and manufacture of the seized drugs, which could provide information on clandestine laboratories and criminal networks, which might be involved in other crimes, for example, human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

“This round table provided participants with the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experience among forensic physicians and criminal evidence experts and added to efforts to establish a modern working methodology in coordination with actors that aims at developing a road map for the strengthening of national institutions concerned with criminal evidence and forensic medicine to the benefit of criminal justice sector and the rule of law”, Dr. Anwar Mohammed AL-Arabi, Head of forensics and criminal evidence in the Judicial Expertise and Research Center of the Ministry of Justice commented on the activity.

With only days away from the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its three supplementary protocols against Trafficking in Persons, Smuggling of Migrants, and Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms respectively, UNODC remains committed to supporting Libya combat organized crime. As part of the project, UNODC is currently working to create a Libyan technical working group composed of key forensic services representatives from the Ministry of Interior (MoI), the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the Ministry of Health (MoH), and the National Authority of Search and Identification of Missing Persons.

“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

The regional project: Dismantling human trafficking and migrant smuggling criminal networks in North Africa