UN report accuses Libyan security forces of colluding with smugglers and traffickers in Libya

UN report by a panel of sanctions experts has found that most smuggling networks and rebel groups have links to official security institutions in Libya, Reuters has reported.

“Armed groups, which were party to larger political-military coalitions, have specialized in illegal smuggling activities, notably human smuggling and trafficking,” experts reported to the 15-member Security Council committee. They said most of these armed groups “were nominally affiliated to official security institutions.”

The panel also raised concern “over the possible use of state facilities and state funds by armed groups and traffickers to enhance their control of migration routes.”

The UN report cited accounts from Eritrean migrants who were arrested in Tripoli in 2016 by the Special Deterrence Force (SDF), a force affiliated with the internationally recognized Government of National Accord’s Ministry of Interior, who then handed them over to various smuggling rings.

“The panel is assessing whether the SDF’s leadership was aware of collusion and trafficking being conducted within its ranks,” the sanctions monitors wrote.

In a written statement to Reuters, SDF spokesman Ahmad Bin Salem denied the allegations saying the force “has nothing to do with smuggling.” He added that the SDF “is fighting illegal immigration and has arrested many smugglers.”

The report went on to cite international agencies who said that Libya’s Directorate Combating Illegal Migration has no control over its detention centres. This appears to be corroborated by migrants who said that local armed groups controlled the centers they stayed in.

A minister of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) admitted to the panel that, “the armed groups are stronger than the authorities in handling the flow of migrants.”

The 157-page confidential UN report sent to the UN Security Council also said that IS cells continue to operate in central and southern Libya despite their defeat in Sirte in 2016, and are seeking to join migrant smugglers in southern Libya.

TMP – 01/03/2018

Photo credit: Reuters/Hani Amara. Migrants sit at a detention centre in Gharyan, Libya October 12, 2017