The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/201/280) issued on 29 March 2019.

The climate of insecurity, political divisions, sporadic armed conflict, challenges to the rule of law and control exercised by armed groups over large parts of Libya restricted the monitoring of and reporting on conflict-related sexual violence. Incidents are severely underreported as a result of fear, intimidation and stigma related to underlying discriminatory gender norms.

Migrant women and girls are particularly vulnerable to rape and other forms of conflict-related sexual violence. Many are exposed to forced prostitution and sexual exploitation in conditions amounting to sexual slavery. Many Nigerian women and girls are particularly vulnerable to trafficking by armed groups and/or multinational criminal networks, reporting that they were detained in “connection houses” in Tripoli and in Sabha and subjected to sexual abuse by uniformed armed men (see S/2018/812 and S/2018/812/Corr.1). Since Libya lacks anti-trafficking legislation or systems to identify and protect survivors, these women and girls fear prosecution and do not report their experiences to Libyan authorities.

In 2018, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya documented accounts by migrant women and girls who were victims or witnesses of sexual abuse by smugglers, traffickers and members of armed groups, as well as by Ministry of Interior officials, during their journey through Libya and in migrant detention centres. Survivors described being taken away by armed men and repeatedly raped by multiple perpetrators. Many reported being raped in front of their children and other witnesses. In September 2018, while in the Niger, my Special Representative met with migrant and refugee women, men and children who had been subjected to sexual violence while being trafficked in Libya. They had experienced sexual violence in detention, been “sold” multiple times, and some had children as a result of rape. Many could not return to their countries for fear of stigmatization and rejection upon return.

The unknown fate of 17 women and girls who suffered sexual violence at the Surman detention centre remained a concern during the reporting period. In October 2017, the head of the Department for Combating Illegal Migration Surman detention centre, Mamduh Miloud Daw, refused to transfer the 17 women and girls to protection agencies. Survivors and witnesses had identified Mr. Daw and another guard at the Surman detention centre, known as “Rasta”, as perpetrators. Mr. Daw also reportedly allowed other staff of the Surman detention centre to sexually abuse women in his custody.

On 7 June 2018, the Security Council imposed sanctions on six individuals involved in the trafficking and smuggling of migrants, including the head of the Shuhada al-Nasr brigade in Zawiya, Mohammed Kashlaf, who controls the Nasr detention centre for migrants. Despite an order for its closure in April, the Nasr S/2019/280 14/35 19-04552 detention centre remained operational throughout 2018. The Security Council adopted resolution 2441 (2018) in November, in which it explicitly included sexual violence as a stand-alone criterion for sanctions designations.

Recommendation

I call upon the Libyan authorities to ensure that all allegations of sexual violence are investigated and prosecuted, and that survivors are provided with protection, reparations and holistic health and psychosocial services. I encourage Libyan authorities to facilitate the release of all those held arbitrarily and without a legal basis, in particular survivors of trafficking, torture and rape, and to introduce measures to protect female detainees from sexual and gender-based violence and sexual exploitation. I urge the Government to adopt anti-trafficking legislation in accordance with international law, and to address the nexus of conflict-related sexual violence and trafficking in accordance with Security Council resolution 2331 (2016). I further call upon the authorities to cooperate with the International Criminal Court in its investigation of conflict-related sexual violence.

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