ICC Prosecutor Releases Statement after Arrest and Extradition of Key Suspects of Trafficking Crimes in Libya

By: Sallie Moppert

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – On October 5, 2022 and October 12, 2022, two Eritrean men were arrested in Ethiopia and extradited to the Netherlands and Italy, respectively, to face charges for crimes against victims of human trafficking and human smuggling in Libya. Both arrests come after years of investigations and cooperation between international agencies.

Ghebremedhin Temesghen Ghebru is escorted back to Rome by members of the Service for International Police Cooperation after being arrested and extradited. Photo courtesy of L’Unione Sarda.

On October 5, 2022, an unnamed 38 year-old Eritrean man was extradited to the Netherlands from Ethiopia following a prolonged investigation between the Dutch Public Prosecution Service and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee. One week later on October 12, 2022, Ghebremedhin Temesghen Ghebru, a 35 year-old from Eritrea, was extradited to Italy from Ethiopia after a year-long investigation conducted by the Polizia di Stato and the Palermo Prosecutor’s Office. Both individuals were arrested in connection with human smuggling from Africa to Europe. The smuggling victims were subjected to brutal violence while in camps in Libya and were also forced to endure beatings, starvation, sexual violence, and extortion.

“The arrest and extradition of those two suspects are of significant importance in the work that Italy and the Netherlands are doing to hold perpetrators accountable for crimes targeting migrants,” said International Criminal Court (“ICC) Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan QC. “I commend the authorities in both countries for their meticulous and effective investigative work as well as the Ethiopian authorities for their decisive action. These criminal investigations also benefitted from the support provided by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Europol, and Interpol, among others.”

The illegal human trafficking and smuggling network that Ghebru was one of the leaders of operated between Central Africa in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan; (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan), the Maghreb region of Africa, specifically Libya; and in Italy and Northern European countries like England, Denmark, the Netherland, Belgium and Germany. Karim applauded the efforts of the various countries involved in the arrests of the two trafficking suspects, highlighting how international cooperation is essential to equal protection under the law, specifically for migrants.

“These recent arrests and extraditions are a clear sign that international cooperation works. The collective effort in these two cases is a prime example of what can be achieved when States, agencies, and my Office join forces in pursuit of a common goal. This is the way forward if we want to ensure that no one is above the law and the impunity gap is narrowed,” Khan said. “I was delighted that we were able to take this step, further aligning our action and resources with others, including the authorities from Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, as well as Europol. I wish to underline my commitment to continue strengthening our engagement and support to our national partners moving forward.”


For further information, please see:

ICC – Statement of ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC on arrest and extradition of suspects in relation to crimes against victims of trafficking in Libya – Oct. 21, 2022

L’Unione Sarda – Human trafficking Africa-Europe: a dangerous fugitive in handcuffs – Oct. 12, 2022

Reuters – Top migrant trafficking suspect caught in Ethiopia, Italy says – Oct. 11, 2022

Author: Garrett Bellows