Document – Libya: Amnesty International completes first fact-finding visit in over five years
AI Index: MDE 19/003/2009
29 May 2009
“[***] Amnesty International was also able to undertake a brief visit to the Misratah Detention Centre, some 200 kilometres from Tripoli, in which several hundred alleged irregular migrants from other African countries are held in severely overcrowded conditions, and to interview several of those held there. Many have been detained since they were intercepted while seeking to make their way to Italy or other countries in southern Europe, which look to Libya and other North African countries to staunch the flow of irregular migrants from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe.
“Worryingly, Misratah, like Abu Salim Prison in Tripoli, appears to be controlled by the General People’s Committee for Public Security rather than the Justice Committee, and to be outside the jurisdiction of the public prosecutor or other judicial authorities. Those held there may include refugees fleeing persecution, but as Libya has no asylum procedure and is not a party to the Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, foreigners, including those in need of international protection, may find themselves outside the protection of the law. There is also virtually no opportunity for detainees to lodge complaints of torture and other ill-treatment to competent judicial authorities.
“In its meetings with government officials, Amnesty International expressed concern about the detention and alleged ill-treatment of hundreds, possibly thousands, of foreign nationals whom the authorities assume to be irregular migrants, and urged them to put in place proper procedures to identify asylum seekers and refugees and afford them appropriate protection. As well, Amnesty International urged the Libyan authorities to cease forcible returns of foreign nationals to countries at which they are at risk of serious human rights violations, and to find a better alternative to detention for those foreigners whom they are not able to return to their countries of origin for this reason. Some of the Eritrean nationals who comprise a sizeable proportion of the foreign nationals detained at Misratah told Amnesty International that they had been held there for two years. [***]”