UNODC and the State of Libya Review Legal Framework in light of the UNTOC

Tripoli, Libya - 15 February 2022 

Human trafficking and migrant smuggling are global and widespread crimes that use men, women and children for profit. The organized networks or individuals behind these lucrative crimes take advantage of people who are vulnerable, desperate, or simply seeking a better life. UNODC is working with the State of Libya on enhancing the legal framework to address human trafficking and migrant smuggling as part of the regional European Union funded project “Dismantling Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Criminal Networks.” 

The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) is the main international instrument in the fight against transnational organized crime. UNODC and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) brought together 19 participants from different relevant divisions at the MoJ and the Ministry of Interior in a workshop from the 4 – 6 October 2021 to discuss the required Libyan legal framework with the UNTOC and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.

In his opening speech, the Head of the Libyan delegation and Member of the Supreme Judicial Council recognized the various circumstances that push people to migrate and Libya’s strategic geographic location in that regard. Although  Libya has issued Law No.6/1987 - on organizing the entry, residence and exit of foreigners in Libya and Law No.19/2010 - to combat illegal immigration, and has ratified various international conventions in that matter, he recognized that more needs to be done. “We must cooperate with international bodies in order to raise the level of combating irregular migration and raise the effective capacity of colleagues in Libya,” he added. This was echoed by the UNODC Regional Representative, Ms. Cristina Albertin, in her opening remarks who highlighted the need for specific laws on human trafficking and smuggling of migrants to be able to properly criminalize, investigate and prosecute both crimes.

During the workshop, participants learned about various legislations from other Arab countries in this regard as well as about key principles enshrined in the UNTOC and the two protocols. For example, the principle of non-criminalization of victims who commit offenses in the context of crimes such as human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.

Putting such knowledge into action, the workshop focused on how to further develop the draft law to address human trafficking. Since 2012, the State of Libya has worked on the drafting of a bill to address human trafficking. The latest draft Bill incorporates international standards, especially those from the UNTOC, and has been designed to take into consideration various legislations from Arab states.

The President of the Tunisian National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, Ms. Raoudha Laabidi, shared the experience of the development of the Tunisian legislation to address trafficking including the setting up of a multi-disciplinary interim commission. She highlighted the importance of understanding and applying a victim-centered approach when designing and implementing the law.

As a next step, the draft law will undergo a final review and be shared with a broad range of stakeholders to ensure that the law is understood in its relevance and importance.

“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

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

Libya: Collaboration and Partnership with the Libyan Law Enforcement Investigation Agencies to tackle TiP/SoM

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