The National Commission for Human Rights in Libya (NCHRL) said it was deeply concerned about the Nigerien authorities’ repeal (on November 25) of the laws related to combating illegal immigration in Niger.
NCHRL explained in a statement that the decision encourages the activity of immigrant smuggling and human trafficking networks, crime gangs and transnational organized crime, which are active in the joint border areas, and also contribute to increasing immigration influx toward Libya.
It said the decision undermined Libya’s efforts to combat immigrant smuggling and human trafficking, eliminate crime networks and gangs, and cross-border organized crime, and secure Libya’s southern borders with neighboring countries, including Niger.
NCHRL expressed dismay at the silence of the Libyan authorities toward this decision and the failure to take a position, given the serious effects and repercussions it could have on Libya and knowing that Libya "is affected by the immigration flows from the African Sahel countries and neighboring states."
It called on the relevant Libyan authorities, represented by the Presidential Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to communicate with the Nigerien authorities and stress the importance of reconsidering the decision because of its negative repercussions on cooperation and relations between the two countries; in general, and regarding issues of border security, immigration, security and stability in the region; in particular.
NCHRL warned the Libyan authorities, including the border guards and residents of the southwestern and eastern border regions, of unprecedented waves of immigrants' crossing, saying they could include members of extremist organizations in the Sahel countries facing military campaigns, as repealing immigration laws would facilitate the expansion of the influence of extremist groups, including Boko Haram, in the southern regions of Libya, knowing that remaining members of the terrorist organization ISIS are being reported in the region.
Niger has recently repealed a law criminalizing smuggling or facilitating illegal immigration operations. The law, which was adopted in 2015, stipulated penalties of up to 30 years in prison, and fines of up to 45.000 euros for those who traffic migrants across the Sahara to Libya: the last stop before crossing the Mediterranean.