The organization for the defense of human rights International Amnesty (AI), called on the European Union (EU) to change its relationship with the authorities in Tripoli and thus prevent thousands of migrants and asylum seekers from being trapped in Libya, exposed every day to abuse, torture, labor slavery and xenophobia, and with minimal options to escape beyond risking his life at sea.
In a report entitled “Between life and death: refugees and migrants trapped in Libya’s cycle of abuse”, AI recalls that “since 2016, the European Union, led by Italy, is working with the Libyan authorities to ensure that people trying to flee the country by boat are intercepted at sea and returned “despite the fact that Libya is not a safe port.
“During this period, approximately 60,000 men, women and children have been caught at sea and landed in Libya by the Libyan Coast Guard supported by the EU, 8,435 of them this year alone, “he details.
“Driven by the desire to stop arrivals at all costs, EU states have offered their support for Libya, in an effort to circumvent international laws that prohibit returns, without conditioning it to strict human rights guarantees, “he adds.
The report, whose publication coincides with the announcement of the new “Migration Pact” of the European Commission, also documents systematic violations of human rights also on land, especially in detention centers financed with European funds, including assassinations, torture, forced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, sexual violence or labor slavery.
It also denounces “the transfer of people disembarked in Libya to unofficial places of detention, such as the famous Tobacco factory in Tripoli, and the summary deportation of thousands of refugees and migrants from the eastern regions of Libya “.
Libya, a country ravaged by years of war, has become an even more hostile environment for refugees and migrants seeking a better life. Instead of being protected, they find a catalog of egregious abuse of human rights and are now unfairly blamed for the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic for deeply racist and xenophobic reasons, “he highlights.
“Many live in miserable conditions without access to clean water and washing facilities, which increases their vulnerability to COVID-19 with physical distancing and preventive hygiene measures impossible to follow … and they face barriers to access medical care and have been largely excluded from official efforts to prevent the pandemic, “he remarks.
Violence and wars
The report also focuses on the action of the different armed groups who collaborate on security issues with the so-called Government of National Accord held by the UN in Tripoli (GNA), and who in most cases have enormous power.
“Militias and armed groups have committed violations of international humanitarian law against refugees and migrants, including the illegal deprivation of liberty, the torture and seemingly indiscriminate attacks. They have also forced migrants to participate in military operations, putting their lives and safety at risk, “he denounces.
These conditions mean that for many “there is no other way out than the mortal sea … in boats not suitable for sailing“, he says.
For this reason and “given the constant failure of the Libyan authorities to address the patterns of abuse long-term to refugees and migrants, “AI urges the EU and its member states to fully reconsider their cooperation with the Libyan authorities, providing more support conditional on immediate action to stop the horrific abuses against those people.