According to Amnesty International, the new EU policy to help work more closely with the Libyan government in matters concerning migrants, is leaving thousands at risk of torture.
Plans made by the EU to cooperate more closely with Libya on the issue of migration appear to be backfiring as thousands of refugees are being left in indefinite detention and face horrifying conditions that involve torture.
It was only last month that the EU announced that it will be extending its anti-smuggling naval mission — Operation Sophia — in the Mediterranean, for another year. However, information gathered from refugees has uncovered shocking cases of abuse by the Libyan coast guard at the immigration detention centers in Libya.
According to Magdalena Mughrabi, interim Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International, Europe should be tacking these abuse cases head on and should forget cooperating with Libya until the issue is addressed.
“Europe shouldn’t even think about migration cooperation arrangements with Libya if it results, directly or indirectly, in such shocking human rights violations. The EU has repeatedly shown it is willing to stop refugees and migrants from coming to the continent at almost any cost now, with human rights taking a back seat,” Magdalena Mughrabi told Sputnik.
Amnesty International gathered information from 90 people who had survived crossing the sea from Libya to Italy — among them, 20 refugees and migrants who described how they faced shootings and beatings while being picked up by the coast guard.
“Of course the Libyan coast guard’s search and rescue capabilities have to improve to save lives at sea, but the grim reality at the moment is that the Libyan coast guard is intercepting and returning thousands of people to detention centers where they suffer torture and other abuses.
“It is critical that any support from the EU does not fuel and perpetuate the abhorrent human rights violations that foreign nationals in Libya are so desperate to escape from,” Mughrabi told Sputnik.
The detention center abuse is not the only concern, Amnesty have also discovered that the Libyan coast guard has been far from favorable in helping migrants and refugees trapped at sea.
One Eritrean man — Mohamed, 26 — said members of the Libyan coast guard who stopped them later abandoned their boat, leaving 120 people on board stranded at sea.
“One of the men from the Libyan coast guard boat came onto our boat to drive it back to Libya. He drove it nearly half way back, but then the motor stopped working. [He] was very frustrated and went back to his own boat. I heard him say’‘if you die, you die,’ before getting back on his boat and driving away, leaving us stuck in the sea,” he said.
Amnesty International is calling on the EU to act, and to look at how they are cooperating with the Libya to help refugees. These accounts of abuse in detention centers by the coast guard, only goes to show that the efforts made by European states may not be good enough.