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Ghanaian prisoners in Libya receiving consular services

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the Ghana Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, is extending consular services to at least twenty (20) Ghanaians in prisons in Libya arrested for various crimes.

The crimes they committed include operating brothels, consumption of alcohol in public, drug peddling and use, non-possession of valid travel documents (passport), as well as attempts to illegally cross to Europe, through the Mediterranean Sea.

The Ministry’s announcement comes after the Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper published a story with the headline “Ghanaian Prisoners in Libya Cry for Help”.

The Ministry in a statement said “Although a number of our convicted nationals would claim to have completed serving their prison sentences, our checks indicate that there were instances where some of them were caught drunk at brothels and without necessary documentation and could thus be serving multiple sentences longer than what they had anticipated.

It added, “From experience, some Ghanaians sentenced in prisons or detention centres sometimes, though much aware of their prison terms, try to court sympathy by making atrocious audio recordings with the hope of securing a possible release or deportation, and thereby avoiding the dire conditions in Libyan prisons and detention centres.”

The Ministry further stressed that, “our Mission in Tripoli continues to make
strenuous efforts to ascertain official information from the relevant Libyan authorities on the condition of our compatriots under detention across Libya and the actual sentences they are serving. These engagements with Libyan prison authorities to facilitate the release of our compatriots go as far back as May 2021, relative to those in their custody who claimed to have finished serving their sentences.”

 

Below is the full statement

Press Release

ACCRA, 16TH SEPTEMBER, 2022 –

The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has been drawn to a story with the headline “Ghanaian Prisoners in Libya Cry for Help” published in the Monday, 12 September, 2022 edition of The Chronicle newspaper.
Information available to the Ministry indicates that:

1. The Ghana Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, is aware and extending consular services to at least
twenty (20) Ghanaian nationals in separate prisons in the Libyan cities of Misrata and Gharyan who were arrested for various crimes, including operating brothels, consumption of alcohol in public, drug peddling and use, non-possession of valid travel documents (passport), as well as attempts to illegally cross to Europe, through the Mediterranean Sea.

2. These offences are felonies in the Libyan 1956 Penal Code, which could attract death
sentences, life imprisonments, and varying terms of imprisonment, depending on the severity of the crimes. However, in the specific case of alcohol consumption, offenders could receive a minimum of three years and a maximum of four years. Also, persons arrested for the offences mentioned, and who in addition do not have valid passports and residence permits are considered to have committed a civil offence and could receive an extra term not exceeding one year, as punishment.

3. Although a number of our convicted nationals would claim to have completed serving their prison sentences, our checks indicate that there were instances where some of them were caught drunk at brothels and without necessary documentation and could thus be serving multiple sentences longer than what they had anticipated.

4. From experience, some Ghanaians sentenced in prisons or detention centres sometimes,
though much aware of their prison terms, try to court sympathy by making atrocious audio
recordings with the hope of securing a possible release or deportation, and thereby avoid the dire conditions in Libyan prisons and detention centres.

5. The Ministry wishes to stress the fact that, our Mission in Tripoli continues to make
strenuous efforts to ascertain official information from the relevant Libyan authorities on the condition of our compatriots under detention across Libya and the actual sentences they are serving. These engagements with Libyan prison authorities to facilitate the release of our compatriots go as far back as in May 2021, relative to those in their custody who claimed to have finished serving their sentences. Our Mission in Tripoli also continues to make effort to obtain an updated list of Ghanaian nationals in Libyan prisons from the host Ministry of Justice, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as and when we obtain this information, we always make it available to the families of these prisoners. Our Mission has already scheduled a visit to prisons in Misrata to further investigate and ascertain the veracity of the claims of overstay and alleged deaths.

6. For instance, in July, this year, our Mission in Tripoli received information from the Libyan
authorities about the deportation of fourteen (14) Ghanaian nationals who had finished serving
their prison sentences. Processes are underway to facilitate their repatriation through the
International Organisation for Migration (IOM). It is not clear whether any of the said thirty (30) Ghanaians referenced in the said publication include these fourteen (14).

7. The Ministry takes this opportunity to urge the general public to volunteer specific
information to the Ministry to make it easier for the extension of the much-needed consular
assistance, as it has always done. Any further information on the said inmates in Misrata would be appreciated to aid our investigations and for the necessary action to be taken.

The Ministry further wishes to advise travelling Ghanaians to desist from embarking on these perilous journeys via illegal routes to various parts of the world, since this almost always comes with dreadful consequences.

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