European Union efforts to stem migration from Libya risk condemning migrants and asylum seekers to violent abuse at the hands of government officials, militias, and criminal groups in Libya, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.
Newly documented abuses include torture, rape, and killings in squalid detention centers where migrants, including people intercepted at sea by the Libyan Coast Guards, are detained.
On June 20, 2016, the EU extended its anti-smuggling naval operation in the central Mediterranean to include training the Libyan Coast Guards and Navy, which are intercepting boats and sending migrants and asylum seekers back to Libya. The EU is also asking NATO to assist its operation. NATO members will discuss options at their summit in Warsaw on July 8 and 9.
“The EU isn’t sending people back to Libya, knowing that’s unlawful, so it wants to outsource the dirty work to Libyan forces,” said Judith Sunderland (pictured), associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The EU – soon perhaps with NATO’s help – is basically deputizing Libyan forces to help seal Europe’s border.”
At present, EU and NATO vessels are not allowed to operate in Libyan territorial waters. The EU has acknowledged that, under international law, it may not send people rescued in international waters back to Libya due to extreme dangers in that country.
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(Source: Human Rights Watch)