Libya forces may be colluding with migrant smugglers: UN report

Members of the Libyan Special Forces, loyal to the country's east strongman Khalifa Haftar, patrol the streets in the eastern city of Benghazi on September 19, 2017, in a bid to assist local security forces in their mission.
Updated 06 February 2018
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Libya forces may be colluding with migrant smugglers: UN report

UNITED NATIONS: Human trafficking is on the rise in Libya, according to a report by a UN panel of experts which found that Libyan forces may be helping rebel groups tighten their control of smuggling routes.
The confidential report sent to the UN Security Council also said the Daesh group is seeking to join migrant smugglers in southern Libya after it was pushed out of Sirte in 2016.
“Human trafficking is on the rise in Libya, resulting in major human rights violations,” said the 157-page report by the panel of experts, seen by AFP on Monday.
The panel raised concern “over the possible use of state facilities and state funds by armed groups and traffickers to enhance their control of migration routes.”
Libya has long been a transit hub for migrants, but smugglers have stepped up their lucrative business in the years that followed the 2011 ouster of Muammar Qaddafi.
The fate of migrants has come under intense security since film footage emerged last year of Africans auctioned off as slaves in Libya, drawing outrage from African governments.
The report cited accounts from Eritrean migrants who were arrested in 2016 in Tripoli by agents of a special force affiliated to Libya’s interior ministry who handed them over to migrant smugglers “against payment.”
Four Bangladeshi migrants arrested by the Special Deterrence Force (SDF) in Tripoli were held in a government detention center in 2015 even though they held valid work visas.
The migrants paid $300 US each to the SDF and were sent to another Libyan city where they were loaded on boats for Europe “against their will,” the report said.
“The panel is assessing whether the SDF’s leadership was aware of collusion and trafficking being conducted within its ranks,” said the report.
The UN-backed authorities in Libya have set up a department to combat illegal migration (DCIM) which is responsible for 24 detention centers and a staff of 5,000.
“According to international agencies, the DCIM has no control over its detention centers,” said the report.
A minister of the UN-backed government of national unity admitted to the panel that “the armed groups are stronger than the authorities in handling the flow of migrants.”
The panel found that Daesh cells “continue to operate in central and southern Libya” despite their defeat in Sirte.
Mostly comprised of foreign fighters, Daesh has recently been trying to re-establish a foothold further south, sending envoys with “large quantities of cash” to develop contacts, said the report.
The “emissaries also tried to link up with smuggling groups, offering protection and seeking long-term sources of financing,” it said.
Despite international backing, the government in Tripoli has been unable to assert its authority in the east, where a rival group is refusing to recognize the UN-backed administration.
The report raised questions about “diversion of public funds” through fuel smuggling and letters of credit in the oil-rich country.
“A political solution in Libya remains out of reach in the near future,” said the report. “Military dynamics in Libya and conflicting regional agendas show a lack of commitment to a peaceful solution.”


Court doubles sentence of Israeli policeman who killed Palestinian

Updated 19 August 2018
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Court doubles sentence of Israeli policeman who killed Palestinian

JERUSALEM: Israel’s top court on Sunday doubled the prison sentence of a police officer who shot dead a Palestinian teenager in 2014, an incident documented by video footage.
The supreme court ruling said the original nine-month prison term handed to Ben Deri by the Jerusalem district court earlier this year did not sufficiently reflect the severity of his actions.
Deri had admitted to fatally shooting Nadeem Nuwarah, 17, on May 15, 2014 during a day of clashes in Beitunia, south of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters.
The clashes were on the anniversary of what Palestinians call the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” when more than 700,000 fled or were expelled during the war surrounding Israel’s creation.
Footage recorded by US broadcaster CNN captured a group of five or six border police officers in the area, one of whom could be seen firing at the time when the youth was hit.
Some five minutes earlier, Nuwarah was seen on other CNN footage throwing stones at Israeli forces.
But when Deri shot him, he was not engaged in any such action, simply walking in the general direction of Deri’s force with his hands to his sides, the Sunday decision noted.
Deri had said during his trial he had mistakenly introduced live ammunition into his M-16 instead of rubber bullets.
But even the firing of rubber bullets was not justified at that point, the court said.
The April district court sentencing had “not sufficiently given expression to the value of the human life severed by Deri,” Sunday’s ruling read.
“The prison term sentenced by the district court is not close in expressing the severity of such an intentional deed, combined with the severe negligence that caused the deceased’s death,” supreme court justice Noam Solberg wrote in his decision, supported by another judge and opposed by one.
Right-wing legal aid organization Honenu, which represented Deri, said the supreme court’s ruling could “jeopardize the motivation and operational abilities of our soldiers.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that while Deri’s actions might have been wrong, “that doesn’t mean his punishment should be increased.”