First Published: 2017-12-12

EU accused of complicity in Libya migrant rights violations
Amnesty accuses European governments of supporting Libyan authorities in stopping sea crossings, containing migrants in Libya.
Middle East Online

By Gabriela Baczynska - BRUSSELS

Libya is the main gateway for migrants trying to cross to Europe by sea

European governments are "complicit" in grave human rights violations in Libya through their support for authorities there that often work with people smugglers and torture refugees and migrants, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

Determined to cut African immigration across the Mediterranean, the governments, via the European Union, have provided support to Libya, trained its coastguard and spent millions of euros through UN agencies to improve conditions in detention camps where Libya puts the migrants.

The advocacy group said up to 20,000 people were now held in these centres and subject to "torture, forced labour, extortion, and unlawful killings", adding to similar allegations made by other rights organisations over the past months.

"European governments have not just been fully aware of these abuses; by actively supporting the Libyan authorities in stopping sea crossings and containing people in Libya, they are complicit in these crimes," John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's head for Europe, said.

The European Union's executive arm, the European Commission, was not immediately available for comment.

Libya is the main gateway for migrants trying to cross to Europe by sea, though numbers have dropped sharply since July as Libyan factions and authorities have begun to block departures under pressure from Italy, the main landing point. More than 600,000 have made the journey over the past four years.

Amnesty said the Libyan coastguards - which the EU backs to intercept people heading for Europe - work hand-in-hand with people smugglers, including in torturing people to extort money.

"By supporting Libyan authorities in trapping people in Libya ... European governments have shown where their true priorities lie: namely the closure of the central Mediterranean route, with scant regard to the suffering caused," said Dalhuisen.

With Libya being largely a lawless states since the fall of veteran ruler Muammar Gaddafi, some EU officials and diplomats chafe at what they see as being forced to rely on sometimes shady characters in the matrix of alliances between militias.

However, EU leaders meeting for their final gathering this year in Brussels on Dec. 14-15 will recommit themselves to this strategy, which they see as bearing fruit in the form of fewer sea crossings.

The presidency of Libya's UN-backed government said last month it was a victim of illegal migration, not a source of it, and appealed to foreign powers to help stop flows from migrants' countries of origin.

 

Sudan clamps down on journalists covering bread protests

Egypt's Sisi says will stand for re-election

Turkey launches new strikes on Kurdish targets in Syria

Pence heads to Mideast despite Muslim, Christian anger

US to overtake Saudi as world’s second crude oil producer

Deserted streets, terrified civilians after Turkey attacks Afrin

Iraqi, Kurdish leaders hold talks on bitter regional dispute

Russia-led Syria peace congress to be held January 30

Assad regime says Syria a 'tourist' destination

Journalists arrested while reporting Sudan protests

Aid for millions of Palestinians hostage to politics

Lebanon thwarts holiday attacks using IS informant

Mortar fire wounds 14 in Syria mental hospital

Turkish military fires on Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin

More than 32,000 Yemenis displaced in intensified fighting

UN warns of "lost generation" in South Sudan's grinding conflict

Saudi's refined oil exports offset crude curbs

Turkey's EU minister rejects any option other than full membership

Tribal feuds spread fear in Iraq's Basra

Turkey says not reassured by US comments on border force

UN chief wants to revive Syria gas attack probe

US has no intention to build border force in Syria

Lebanese intelligence service may be spying using smartphones worldwide

Egypt's Sisi sacks intelligence chief

Trump dashes Netanyahu’s hope to move US embassy to Jerusalem

Cyprus denies bail for Israeli organ trafficker

Rising Yemen currency sparks hopes of relief

Turkish ministries to investigate underage pregnancy cover-up

Iraq PM launches online appeal for election allies

Iran central bank sees claim for billions from German stock market blocked

Iraq signs deal with BP to develop Kirkuk oil fields

Israeli occupation forces raid Jenin, kill Palestinian

HRW chief says 'Nobody should be forcibly returned to Libya'

IS poses threat to Iraq one month after 'liberation'

Seven years since ousting dictator, Tunisians still protest

Iran says Trump jeopardising Airbus deals

China says Iranian oil tanker wreck located

Sudan arrests communist leader after protests

Syrian opposition joins condemnation of US 'border force'

Israeli judge detains teen until trial for viral ‘slap video’

Arab league slams US freeze of Palestinian funding

Dubai billionaire to sell 15 percent Damac stake

Britain to put women at heart of peace work in Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan

Saudi to give Yemen government $2bn bailout

US withholds $65 million from UN agency for Palestinians