The Tripoli-based Government of National Unity, led by outgoing prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, have honored on Friday a man described as one of the world’s most wanted human traffickers, who was placed under sanctions by the UN Security Council for being directly involved in the sinking of migrant boats.
The coastguard commander Abd al-Rahman Milad, known by his alias Bija, received a “letter of recognition and appreciation” directly from Fathallah Al-Zinni, who currently serves as minister of youth in Dbeibeh’s cabinet.
The move was made during an official event hosted by the Ministry of Youth in Tripoli to celebrate Libyan scouts in commemoration of the country’s National Heritage Day. According to a statement from the ministry, the event was held “under the patronage” of Dbeibeh, and was organized by the ministry.
One of the event’s pictures posted on the ministry’s Facebook showed Al-Zinni personally handing Milad a certificate holder that visibly reads “letter of recognition and appreciation”. Another picture showed the minister handing the alleged human trafficker a big bouquet of roses.
Milad is suspected of being part of a criminal network operating in Zawiyah in north-west Libya. In June 2018, the security council imposed sanctions on him and five other alleged leaders of criminal networks engaged in trafficking migrants and others from Libya.
He was arrested in October 202o, but was freed in April 2021 after the military attorney general of Tripoli dropped charges against him “for lack of evidence”. He remains on the U.N. sanctions list.
This blatant show of support by Dbeibeh’s government to the infamous human trafficker comes exactly a week after horrific massacre of at least 15 migrants by smugglers in Sabratha. The incident was condemned by the U.N., the U.S. and other countries.