Brutal approach and horrific abuses.. Amnesty International calls on the European Union to stop cooperation with Libya on immigration

Amnesty International has urged the European Union to end its cooperation with the Libyan authorities on migration, on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of a controversial agreement between the two parties, denouncing once again the “tragic” conditions of detention for migrants in this country.

The cooperation agreement with the Libyan Coast Guard stipulates that migrants trying to reach Europe in very dangerous conditions will be intercepted in the Mediterranean and forcibly returned to Libya.

Amnesty International said in a statement that under this agreement, more than 82,000 people were returned to Libya, stressing that it is “unlawful to return anyone to a place where they are exposed to serious violations” of human rights.

“Men, women, and children forcibly returned to Libya face arbitrary detention, torture, cruel and inhumane detention conditions, rape, sexual violence, extortion, forced labor, and arbitrary executions,” the NGO added.

“The Libyan government of national unity continues to allow new abuses and promote impunity, as evidenced by the appointment of Muhammad al-Khoja as head of the irregular migration department,” Amnesty said.

“The time has come to put an end to this brutal approach which shows complete disregard for the lives and dignity of these people. Instead, rescue efforts must include moving people to a place of safety,” the statement quoted Amnesty International’s Migration and Asylum researcher Matteo de Belles as saying.

Having plunged into chaos since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has become a hub for thousands of migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, seeking to reach Europe via Italian coasts some 300 kilometers away.

On February 2, 2017, Italy and Libya signed, with the support of the European Union, a controversial agreement that has since been renewed, providing financial assistance and training for the Libyan coast guard to stop irregular migrants’ flights. Non-governmental organizations and the United Nations regularly denounce this agreement as well as the human rights violations committed against migrants.

Matteo De Bellis said that “Italy and the European Union must stop encouraging these horrific abuses,” calling on the Union to “focus on urgently opening legitimate channels that are needed by thousands of people stuck in Libya who are in dire need of international protection.”

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