Building bridges from Tripoli to Rome: A Study tour to Strengthen Libya-Italy Cooperation in Criminal Matters

Catania - Rome, Italy - 30 April 2023

The fight against human trafficking and migrant smuggling is a complex battle that requires cooperation and coordination across borders. Recognizing this, UNODC organized a five-day study visit to Italy for Libyan judges, prosecutors, and public lawyers under the regional EU-funded project, "Dismantling Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Criminal Networks in North Africa." The visit aimed to share best practices in managing cases related to trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants and enhance international cooperation between Libya and Italy.

17 prosecutors, judges, magistrates, public lawyers from Libya and more than 40 Italian and international experts engaged in intensive discussions during the study visit about the most pressing issues related to countering criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking. The need for a coherent and human rights sensitive migration management legislation was also discussed along with sharing best practices in investigation of migrant smuggling and human trafficking cases and main challenges encountered in dismantling organized criminal networks.

The study visit provided unique opportunities for the participants to hear about the practices and perspectives of the Italian Ministry of Justice representatives, to attend smuggling of migrants’ case hearings in Catania, and to visit the shelter "Prendere il Volo" in Rome, which assists women victims of sexual exploitation. Furthermore, the visit saw the collaboration of the Trial Court and Appeal Court of Catania, the Police of State, the Red Cross, and non-state actors involved in supporting human trafficking and migrant smuggling victims.

At the end of the study visit, the Libyan participants agreed on key recommendations to be presented to their respective Government agencies – namely, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General Office, the Supreme Judicial Council, and the Public Lawyers Department.

The recommendations included establishing and enhancing agreements between the Libyan and Italian Public Prosecutor's Offices and the relevant Ministries, taking necessary legislative steps to regulate the fight against human trafficking and related crimes, and following internationally recognized means to strengthen intergovernmental cooperation, including through the deployment of Libyan Liaison Magistrate to Italy. Participants also emphasized the importance of enhancing the expertise and capabilities of law enforcement agencies in dealing with crimes related to human trafficking and related crimes, as well as coordinating and monitoring all necessary measures to achieve maximum international cooperation, in coordination with UNODC.

The study tour was a valuable opportunity to share knowledge, develop relationships, and discover methods to combat human trafficking and migrant smuggling through cooperation. By implementing the recommendations, Libya and Italy take significant steps in countering human trafficking and smuggling of migrants while protecting victims and vulnerable migrants and holding offenders accountable.