Head of Libyan mission to Malta: No slavery phenomenon in Libya

Elhabib Alamin stressed that the Libyan state and its people could not be held responsible for the action of criminal gangs, while calling on the international community to help efforts to stablise the country

The head of the Libyan mission to Malta said there was no slavery phenomenon in Libya, while insisting that the country was in need of assistance from the international community
The head of the Libyan mission to Malta said there was no slavery phenomenon in Libya, while insisting that the country was in need of assistance from the international community

The Charge d’Affaires and head of the Libyan mission in Malta Elhabib Alamin, has denied allegations of a thriving slave trade in Libya, insisting that both the Libyan government and its people were a tolerant people who valued diversity.

Addressing a press conference at the Libyan embassy in Attard, Alamin said that a video and accompanying report published by US news agency CNN earlier this month, showing what appear to be African migrants being auctioned off the highest bidder was intentionally being used to imply that the phenomenon was widespread in Libya

“When you have numbers and statistics you can say that something is a phenomenon,” said Alamin. “But there are no numbers or statistics to show this, only CNN’s video.”

Alamin said the circumstances in Libya since the fall of Muammar Ghaddafi meant authorities were not able to protect the country’s borders, and unable to enforce the rule of law. As such, he said that human traffickers were finding no difficulties in bringing migrants across Libya’s borders, for them to eventually be sent to Europe.

Moreover, Alamin said an inquiry had been launched by the Libyan attorney general, while both interior and justice ministries had issued statements saying they were working to verify the contents of the report. He noted however that in most cases, migrants travelling across Africa to Europe were transferred from one smuggling group to another before they got the Europe, and that this did not necessarily constitute a thriving slave trade.  

"Whatever abuse is happening, it does not represent the behaviour of the Libyan people. The smugglers are criminals who have even kidnapped Libyan," said Alamin.

With a civil war, terrorism, political struggle, divided institutions and international interference, he said that Libya could not be expected to solve problems of importance to international community, such as terrorism and people smuggling.

“It’s logical that you can’t ask a sick person to perform certain duties. Libya is not well. This is not a secret, and there are also a lot of Libyans who are also struggling,” he said, adding that the country’s people were suffering from a shortage of money and services.

He stressed that calls for Libya to control the flow of migrants to Europe was essentially a request for Libya to imprison people in the country.

“It’s like asking Libya to act as an armed guard to African migrants and prevent them from moving. An inhumane request,” he said.

“Our position has not changed and it will not change. Libya is only a transit country in this problem and it cannot be considered the source of migration.”

Any efforts to control human trafficking would require greater efforts from the Libya’s neighbouring countries, which so far have failed to control to movement of people across their borders.

“In some of these countries, there are military bases of major powers and these countries can help Libya control its border, if they wanted to,” he said.

Italy and Libya signed an agreement in February, which was approved by the European Union, for greater cooperation in fighting human smuggling rings. Asked whether this had had a positive effect, Alamin said that the issue had become more complicated now that Libya now felt like it was no longer speaking to one Europe.

“It is divided when it comes to Libya, you all know about tensions between France and Italy about Libya,” he said. “The agreement means nothing because the problem is still there. We have not done a good enough job to find a radical solution to this problem.”

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