July 28, 2021

Amnesty International denounces migration cooperation between the European Union and Libya

In a report released Thursday, July 15, Amnesty International describes the “Appalling violations” human rights in Libyan detention centers where migrants intercepted while trying to reach Europe are held. Violence, rape, torture, disappearances, dead babies for lack of care… The accusations are overwhelming.

The NGO’s document is based on 53 testimonies, including 49 from people placed in places of detention directly after their interception at sea. Requisitioning against the Libyan coast guards, trained and funded by the European Union, the document is also an indictment against the latter and its member states which seem to turn a blind eye, “While they are perfectly aware of the horrors that people are going to suffer”, slice Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

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Interceptions have increased over the past six months, notes the International Organization for Migration (IOM): 15,300 people have been returned to Libya since 1is January, three times more than for the same period in 2020. Situation “Worrying”, judge the agency linked to the United Nations, “Given that migrants returned to Libya are subjected to arbitrary detention, disappearance, torture”.

“Network rotten to the core”

In this regard, Amnesty targets the Libyan Interior Ministry, which controls the Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM). This structure incorporated detention centers which were in the hands of militias accused of having organized enforced disappearances in the past.

Even though the authorities in Tripoli had undertaken to close the establishments where violations of fundamental rights had been observed, they therefore, in reality, organized impunity, and even formalized former “informal” prisons. Survivors of these structures, since renamed, testify in particular to sexual violence against women, in exchange for food or their release.

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Jobs and promotions have been offered to former torturing guards, Amnesty says. The Tadjourah center, known to have been the site of ill-treatment, was thus closed in the summer of 2019, but its director and his deputies took over the head of the Al-Mabani center, near Tripoli. This is where some 7,000 people intercepted since the start of the year have been transferred. Some of them told Amnesty about a daily newspaper of forced labor, extortion, cruel treatment and torture. Guards also reportedly shot detainees.

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