Amnesty urges EU to rethink Libya support over migrant abuse

Soldiers of the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces (RSF) show migrants who tried to cross illegally into the neighboring Libya, at camp in Gouz Abudloaa, some 100kms from Khartoum, Sudan, 25 September 2019. [Marwan Ali/EPA/EFE]

Amnesty International on Thursday (24 September) urged the EU to reconsider cooperation with Libya over “horrific abuses” of refugees and migrants in the North African country.

Libya has become a key route for irregular migration to Europe in the chaotic years since the 2011 overthrow and killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising.

The EU has backed a controversial agreement for Italy to finance and train the Libyan coastguard.

But the International Organisation for Migration and others have long warned that it is not safe for migrants to be returned to the conflict-ravaged country.

“Instead of being protected, they are met with a catalogue of appalling human rights abuses,” said Diana Eltahawy, deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“Even in 2020 the EU and its member states continue to implement policies trapping tens of thousands of men, women and children in a vicious cycle of abuse.”

“The EU and its member states must completely reconsider their co-operation with Libyan authorities, making any further support conditional on immediate action to stop horrific abuses against refugees and migrants,” Eltahawy said in a statement.

The UK-based rights group’s remarks came after the European Commission on Wednesday announced a long-awaited proposal for asylum policy for the bloc.

EU's new migration pact to request 'mandatory solidarity' from member states

The European Commission proposed to member states on Wednesday to share responsibility for asylum seekers under a “mandatory solidarity” mechanism. With the new migration pact, it hopes to avert a replay of the 2015 migration crisis by giving the countries a choice between taking in migrants or helping to send them back home.

Amnesty also unveiled a report detailing accounts of the unlawful killings of migrants and refugees in Libya, as well as enforced disappearances, torture, rape, arbitrary detention and “forced labour and exploitation at the hands of state and non-state actors in a climate of near-total impunity”.

The report also details “the summary deportation of thousands of refugees and migrants from Libya’s eastern regions”.

“Driven by a desire to stop arrivals at all costs, EU states have offered their support to Libya… without conditioning it upon strict human rights guarantees,” Amnesty said.

“Refugees and migrants risk their lives at sea seeking safety in Europe, only to be intercepted, transferred back to Libya and delivered to the same abuses they sought to escape,” the UK-based rights group said.

UN says migrants' return to Libya by Italian boat could be illegal

A rescue operation in which an Italian towboat rescued more than 100 migrants and returned them to Libya earlier this week may have been in breach of international law, the United Nations said on Tuesday (31 July).

Libyan authorities’ promises to investigate crimes against refugees and migrants “have not led to accountability”, it added.

The European Commission Wednesday sought to rally sceptical EU member states around a plan to better share responsibility for settling refugees and sending rejected asylum seekers home from the bloc.

UN head 'shocked' by suffering at migrant camp in Libya

UN Secretary General António Guterres said Thursday (4 April) he was “shocked” by the level of suffering of migrants at a detention centre in Tripoli which he visited during a visit to the Libyan capital.

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