A Journey Through Libya

November 23, 2021

The journey of migrants and refugees through Libya is one that is plagued with violence and abuse. From the moment they enter Libya, those fleeing war and poverty, forced to avail themselves to the hands of smugglers, fall into the hands of traffickers where they are held for ransom under the harshest conditions including extortion, torture, rape, starvation. They are then often sold off or released to continue their journey, only to get captured and detained again. This common cycle of violence and abuse is depicted through the story of ‘Tesfay’, an Eritrean refugee forced to flee his home country where he faced persecution. Tesfay explains his journey through Libya, detailing his captivity and the violence, pain and suffering he went through. ‘Tesfay’, whose name has been changed to protect his safety, survived his journey through Libya and now resides as a refugee in Europe.  The interactive Story Map depicts Tesfay’s journey.

Tesfay’s story is but one example of the cruel reality of migrants and refugees who have made their way through Libya in search for peace but instead faced further violence. His story, along with the individual stories of 13 other survivors, were documented for a submission to the International Criminal Court. On 23 November 2021, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) (the Organisations) submitted a joint Communication to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (the ICC Communication) pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute. The Organisations argued that the widely documented violations of international human rights law committed against migrants and refugees in Libya may also amount to crimes against humanity. The ICC Communication sought to support the opening of an investigation by the ICC into the identified crimes, as a step towards ensuring accountability for these crimes, and ultimately, justice for the victims. (The ICC Communication is available upon request.) 

In addition, to the ICC Communication, the Organisations published a complementary report, No Way Out: Migrants and Refugees in Libya Face Crimes Against Humanity. The report summarises the key findings of the ICC Communication and presents further analysis on the role of European policies in the commission of these crimes against migrants and refugees.

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