Amnesty International has strongly condemned Libya and European states for being responsible for the “horrific violations” being committed against migrants returned to the North African country.
The rights group has documented in a 50-page report “harrowing violations, including sexual violence, against men, women and children” intercepted at sea and forcibly returned to detention centres in Libya.
The report was based on testimonies of 53 refugees and migrants, aged between 14 and 50, from countries such as Nigeria, Somalia and Syria, who were mostly still in Libya and had been able to flee camps or had access to telephones.
Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, called the rights group’s new report “horrifying”.
It “sheds new light on the suffering of people intercepted at sea and returned to Libya, where they are immediately funnelled into arbitrary detention and systematically subjected to torture, sexual violence, forced labour and other exploitation with total impunity”, she said.
European nations “have shamefully continued to enable and assist Libyan coastguards in capturing people at sea and forcibly returning them to the hellscape of detention in Libya, despite knowing full well the horrors they will endure”, Eltahawy said.
Eltahawy said Libya’s detention network was “rotten to its core and must be dismantled”.
Amnesty also examined documents, photos, and videos from Libyan authorities and the UN.
The rights group urged Europe to “suspend cooperation on migration and border control with Libya”.
War-torn Libya has been the dominant transit point for thousands of migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa, seeking a new hope in the European continent.
Thousands of migrants leave Libya yearly towards Europe. Many of them die on the journey.
Since the start of the year, over 10,000 migrants so far have been rescued and returned to Libya in 2021, while at least 180 migrants traveling died.
Hundreds are still missing so far this year.