Amnesty International has released a new report entitled: “’Libya is Full of Cruelty’ – Stories of Abduction, Sexual Violence and Abuse from Migrants and Refugees.” (also available here.)
Key points include (see formal AI recommendations below):
- “Widespread abuses by armed groups, smugglers, traffickers and organized criminal groups in Libya as well as systematic exploitation, lawlessness and armed conflicts are pushing hundreds of thousands of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees to risk their lives by attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea”;
- “In many cases, migrants and refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea have been subjected to prolonged beatings in [detention] facilities following their interception and arrest by the Libyan coastguard or militias acting on their own initiative in the absence of strong state institutions”;
- “While Amnesty International welcomes the EU’s commitment to increase resources for search and rescue operations, it is also concerned that some of the proposed measures, in particular plans to ‘systematically identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers’ would effectively contribute to migrants and refugees being trapped in Libya and expose them to a risk of serious human rights abuses”;
- “As more people are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, the priority for the international community must be to dramatically expand search and rescue operations and take effective steps to urgently address human rights abuses and serious violations of international humanitarian law in Libya. EU governments must also increase the number of resettlement places, humanitarian admissions and visas for people in need of international protection”.
“Amnesty International makes the following recommendations:
To European governments
- Urgently ensure the deployment of naval and aerial resources at a scale commensurate with foreseeable departure trends and which should patrol the high seas along the main migration routes. Whether such deployment occurs within the framework of Frontex Joint Operation Triton or through other agreements, it is crucial that ships and aircraft are delivered promptly and deployed in the area where most of calls for assistance come from and a great number of shipwrecks occurs;
- To reduce the numbers of those risking their lives at sea, increase the number of resettlement places, humanitarian admissions and visas for people in need of international protection and ensure that refugees have effective access to asylum at land borders;
- Ensure that any action against smugglers and traffickers is addressed through law enforcement measures, governed by human rights law and standards, and that it does not contribute to migrants and refugees being trapped in Libya without any means of escaping the violence;
- Ensure that human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including against migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees in Libya, are addressed as part of the political dialogue aimed at ending the ongoing conflicts, and that a mechanism is put in place to monitor the human rights situation on the ground following any subsequent settlement. EU governments must also insist that Libyan authorities, armed groups and militias end the systematic indefinite detention of migrants and refugees based on their immigration status; all refugees and asylum-seekers and migrants detained for immigration purposes must be released.;
- Investigate and bring to justice in fair trials those involved in trafficking of persons.
To the governments of Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria:
- Keep the borders open to all individuals in need of international protection regardless of whether they have valid travel documents or meet visa requirements.
To governments along the smuggling route:
- Ensure that any regional co-operation aimed at addressing irregular migration and dismantle smuggling networks fully complies with international law and standards, and does not infringe upon the rights and safety of asylum-seekers and refugees, with particular regard to the right to freedom of movement, the right to asylum, and the absolute prohibition on refoulement.
To militias, armed groups and Libyan authorities:
- Release anyone detained solely on the basis of their immigration status, nationality, race, religion or ethnicity;
- Make clear to all those under your command that torture or other ill-treatment, rape and sexual assault will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Remove from the ranks anyone suspected of such abuses;
- Facilitate visits by independent organizations to immigration detention centres and other places of detention;
- Ensure that all those deprived of their liberty can communicate regularly with their families and have access to adequate medical care.”