Press release on the discovery of a mass grave containing at least 65 bodies of migrants in Libya


The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Commission) is following with great attention the situation of migrants in Libya, a territory traversed by one of the deadliest migratory routes in Africa.

The Commission is deeply alarmed and saddened by the discovery, in south-west Libya, of a mass grave containing at least 65 bodies of migrants, whose nationalities, gender and circumstances of death have not yet been identified. According to information received by the Commission, the migrants died during their clandestine crossing of the Libyan desert.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights expresses its sincere condolences to the families of the bereaved victims and condemns all violations of migrants' rights that may lead to their disappearance, including the right to life. 

Recalling its Resolution ACHPR/RES. 486 (EXT.OS/XXXI1I) 2021 on missing migrants and refugees in Africa and the consequences for their families, and following this umpteenth tragedy, the Commission once again expresses its deep concern at the continuing disappearances of migrants in various circumstances, due in particular to the upsurge in irregular migratory flows and the use of the most precarious and perilous migratory routes. Migrants, who are often extremely vulnerable, are exposed to various abuses committed by smugglers and traffickers, such as trafficking in human beings, migrant smuggling and other forms of transnational organised crime.

The Commission remains convinced that in order to improve the lot of migrants and put an end to such tragedies, it is necessary to develop regular channels for legal migration, and that migration management policies and practices should be based on respect for the human rights of all migrants.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights calls on the Government of the State of Libya to shed light on this tragedy by conducting a swift, impartial and effective enquiry to establish who was responsible, and to facilitate, with due respect for human dignity, the recovery of the bodies of the deceased migrants, their identification and the provision of information to their families as soon as possible.

Finally, the Commission reminds States Parties of their obligations to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety and protection of all migrants, irrespective of their origin and migratory status, and at all stages of their migratory journey, arising from the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and other relevant international and regional instruments, including the "African Guiding Principles on the Human Rights of All Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers" (2023).

Hon. Commissioner Selma SASSI-SAFER

Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa
Commissioner for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Libya