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EU leaders accused of being knowingly complicit in torture and exploitation of thousands, says Amnesty

Amnesty International claimed that the coastguard and those who are handed the migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, are often acting hand in hand with militia and criminal gangs

12 December 2017, 11:07am
A migrant holds his head as he stands in a packed room at the Tariq Al-Matar detention centre on the outskirts of the Libyan capital Tripoli on November 27, 2017 (Photo: VeloxNews)
A migrant holds his head as he stands in a packed room at the Tariq Al-Matar detention centre on the outskirts of the Libyan capital Tripoli on November 27, 2017 (Photo: VeloxNews)
European leaders stand accused by the Amnesty International, of being knowingly complicit in the torture and exploitation of thousands of refugees and migrants by the EU-financed Libyan coastguard and officials running through the country’s detention camps.

In an attempt to stem the flow of people across the Mediterranean to Europe, the EU is financing a system that acts with militia groups and human traffickers to “make money from human suffering,” according to a report from the human rights group.

Following the provision of training, ships and funding from the EU and Italy to the Libyan coastguard, the number of arrivals to Italy dropped by 67% between July and November, when compared with the same period in 2016.

Amnesty International claimed that the coastguard and those who are handed the migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, are often acting hand in hand with militia and criminal gangs.

Agreements between the coastguard and smugglers are signaled by markings on boats, which allow specific vessels to pass through Libyan waters without being intercepted, it has been claimed. The coastguard is also believed to escort boats out to international waters.

Those who are stopped on their way to Europe are sent to camps run by the Libyan general directorate for combating illegal migration. Amnesty reported that here, torture for the purpose of extracting money is routine.

After interviews with refugees and asylum seekers, Amnesty claimed that it now had sufficient evidence to take leaders of EU states to international courts, over alleged abuses of human human rights obligations.

“Hundreds and thousands of refugees and migrants trapped in Libya are at the mercy of the Libyan authorities, militia, armed groups and smugglers, often working seamlessly together for financial gain. Tens of thousands are kept indefinitely in overcrowded detention centres where they are subjected to systematic abuse.

“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,” said Amnesty Europe’s director, John Dalhuisen.

Up to 20,000 people are currently being held in what the Amnesty report says are overcrowded, unsanitary centres. They are often under the control of militia and criminals.

“For some time, there has been concern that the price for stemming migration has been the human rights of those seeking to come to the EU,” says the report.

Last month, French president Emmanuel Macron, described the abuse as “a crim against humanity” and said that the African Union and the EU would “launch concrete military and policing action on the ground to dismantle those networks.”

Amnesty said that the EU member states “cannot plausibly claim to be unaware of the grave violations being committed by some of the detention officials and coastguard agents with whom they are so assiduously cooperating.”

Brussels currently stands accused of failing to install the necessary rights protection mechanisms and guarantees from its Libyan counterparts.

“The lack of any judicial oversight of the detention process and the near total impunity with which officials operate has facilitated the institutionalization of torture and other ill-treatment in detention centres.”