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Libyan Newswire

Answer – Migrant arrivals by boat from Libya – E-001607/2017

The Commission refers the Honourable Member to the Joint Communication with the High Representative/Vice-President on the Central Mediterranean route ‘Managing flows, saving lives’(1), as well as the Malta Declaration by the Members of the European Council on the external aspects of migration ‘Addressing the Central Mediterranean route’(2), both of which set out the priorities identified by the Commission, the High Representative and Member States, in order to address the challenges of migratory flows in the Central Mediterranean, including measures on smuggling of migrants and on tackling trafficking in human beings.

Many of these measures are in the process of implementation and provide, inter alia, for enhanced support to the Libyan Coast Guard and border authorities from Libya and its neighbouring countries to reassert control over its maritime and southern borders, in line with the relevant international and human rights conventions.

Furthermore, the Commission refers the Honourable Member to its communication on an EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling(3), which set out the priorities identified by the Commission to prevent the exploitation of migrants by criminal networks.

Many of these measures have already been launched and provide, inter alia, for increased gathering and sharing of information on modus operandi, routes, and economic models of smuggling networks, as well as on their links with trafficking in human beings, the latter being a grave human rights violation and a serious form of organised crime(4).

To this end, operational support from EU agencies has been enhanced on the ground and a network of migration liaison officers has been deployed. Additionally, the Commission is committed to enhancing voluntary humanitarian return and reintegration of migrants stranded in Libya and its neighbouring countries, jointly with international organisations.

(1) JOIN(2017)4, adopted on 25 January 2017
(2) adopted on 3 February 2017
(3) COM(2015)285 adopted on 27 April 2015
(4) Smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings are two legally distinct phenomena. The main differentiating factors are: a) consent, b) borders and c) state responsibility towards victims. Migrants willingly engage in the irregular migration process by paying for the services of a smuggler in order to cross a border. Victims of trafficking are coerced by different means: the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability; and trafficking does not necessarily entail crossing of State borders. Trafficking in human beings for all forms of exploitation is a violation of fundamental rights, expressly prohibited in the Charter of Fundamental Rights in Article 5. In addition, Article 79 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union stipulates specifically the obligation to ‘combating trafficking in persons, in particular women and children’ and Article 83 on police and judicial cooperation identifies trafficking in human beings as a serious form of organised crime.
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