Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Briefing on the situation of migrants in Libya

National Statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the situation of migrants in Libya, 28 November 2017, New York.

Mr President,

Let me begin by thanking High Commissioner Grandi and Director-General Swing for their sobering briefings. We welcome the initiative of France to request a Council meeting on this topic. It is essential that today's meeting leads to swift and decisive action.

Like others, we have been horrified and outraged by video-footage released last week of human beings reportedly being bought and sold as slaves in so called slave markets in Libya.

All states have an obligation to prevent, deter and penalize the crime of slavery. It is always prohibited, and may very well amount to crimes against humanity. We condemn any such acts in the strongest of terms.

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Sadly, these revelations are only the latest in the litany of indignities and abuses seen in the conflict in Libya. In every Security Council meeting on Libya this year, Sweden has raised the widespread and well-documented violations and abuses of human rights that refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons suffer, including arbitrary detention, rape, other forms of sexual and physical abuse, and forced labour. These egregious crimes continue to take place with complete impunity.

We all have a responsibility to act. This is not the moment to pass the buck.

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Mr President,

Let me set out a number of concrete measures to move forward.

Firstly, this Council must demand accountability. We reiterate Secretary-General Guterres' call to the competent authorities to investigate the reported slavery and slave trade. We take note of the announcement of an investigation by the Libyan Government of National Accord, and welcome the UN's initiative to work with the Libyan authorities to set up a transparent monitoring mechanism in order to safeguard migrants and refugees against human rights abuses and violations.

We welcomed the Secretary-General's call on November 20 for all UN actors to actively pursue the matter of slavery, and would welcome a report by the Secretary-General to the Council on the results of these efforts.

This Council should join him, as well as the African Union and European Union, in clearly and unambiguously demanding that these crimes are fully investigated in a swift, credible and independent manner, and to this end, we urgently call for the establishment of a fact-finding mission into the matter of slavery in Libya.

In addition, we support the initiative of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, last communicated to this Council on November 8, to actively explore the possibility of investigating crimes related to human trafficking and smuggling networks.

As a preventive action as well as to promote changes in behavior - we remain open to exploring the possibility of using sanctions to target smuggling and trafficking in persons.

Secondly, improvements on the humanitarian situation are acutely necessary. We call on the Libyan authorities to ensure full and unimpeded humanitarian access to migrant detention centers across Libya. We repeat our calls for these detention centers to be turned into open transit centers that meet international standards.

In addition, finding sustainable alternatives to detention, not least for women, children and vulnerable groups is crucial. We support UNHCR's efforts to ensure the protection needs of refugees, including the Emergency Evacuation and Temporary Resettlement Mechanism. Having provided emergency resettlement slots to the Mechanism, and as one of the largest to donors IOM and UNHCR's important operations, we encourage other countries to do the same.

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Mr President,

While urgent action is required to respond to the immediate situation of refugees and migrants, the only long term solution to the unfolding human tragedy is to address the root causes of forced migration. This will require concerted and coordinated action to tackle poverty, inequality, human rights violations and abuses, as well as instability in countries of origin and transit, including in Libya itself. The full implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development is a powerful tool to this end. Finally, we must continue to support the UN-facilitated efforts to achieve a lasting political solution to the conflict in Libya; something that will improve the lives of all people in Libya, including migrants and refugees.

Thank you

Contact

Lisa Laskaridis
Head of Press and Communication, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN
Phone +1 212 583 2543
Mobile +1 917 239 0941
email to Lisa Laskaridis