Amnesty accuses European Union of complicity in human rights violations in Libya


European Union countries are complicit in the abuse of migrants held in Libya, Amnesty International said in a report released yesterday that accused the EU of turning a blind eye to allegedly brutal tactics of the Libyan coastguard and unsafe detention facilities.

"The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity", United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said last month.

Amnesty said it studied video footage, pictures and documents indicating that a boat, the Ras Jadir, which Italy donated in April to the Libyan Coast Guard, contributed to the drowning of up to 50 people on November 6 as a result of "reckless actions" by its crew.

European governments have not just been fully aware of these abuses.

Last month, USA news channel CNN reported that many African migrants in Libya had been captured by local criminal gangs and sold into slavery in lawless regions near Tripoli. Its strategy has including training and equipping Libya's coastguard to stop boats trying to make the unsafe Mediterranean Sea crossing. The report asserts that the financial support has resulted in "mass arbitrary and detention" of refugees and migrants, some 20,000 of whom are now forcibly being held in centers where they are subject to "torture, forced labor, extortion and unlawful killings".

Rights group Amnesty International has accused European Union governments of supporting migrant abuse in Libya.

Volker Türk, the organisation's assistant high commissioner for protection, said their appeal was "a desperate call for solidarity and humanity. Libya can not bear sole responsibility for this", Serraj said. Libya has become the main passageway for migrants from across the region trying to reach European shores.

"Many refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons in Libya are victims of serious violations of human rights, including different forms of inhumane, cruel and degrading treatment", says UNHCR's Flash appeal*, which also notes that a large number of them are detained for an indefinite period of time in deplorable conditions. Most were Nigerians, Frontex said.

The Amnesty report amounts to "the presentation of an argument that will subsequently provide the material for us and I'm sure others to litigate", he said. The bloc has also tried to accelerate the repatriation of migrants from Libya to their countries of origin. Recordings showed rescued migrants being whipped on the coastguard ship, the rights group alleged. European governments have shown where their true priorities lie: "namely the closure of the central Mediterranean route, with scant regard to the suffering caused".