European Union members are working hand in glove with Libyan authorities in pushing thousands of refugees and migrants into torture camps to stop their migration from North Africa, Amnesty International says.
In a report titled ‘Libya’s dark web of collusion’ released on December 12, Amnesty details how European states provide ships and training to Libyan coastguard to intercept migrants at sea and fund Tripoli to set up overcrowded detention camps where migrants are illegally and indefinitely detained, tortured and often killed by authorities, human traffickers, armed groups and militias who together run them.
Amnesty says there are about 20,000 people being detained at these camps.
“By actively supporting the Libyan authorities in stopping sea crossings and containing people in Libya, EU members are complicit in these crimes,” said Amnesty’s EU office director John Dalhuisen.
The report cites the case of a Gambian national who stayed in one of these camps for three months.
“They beat me with a rubber hose because they want money to release me. They call the family while beating [you] so the family send money,” the man told Amnesty.
The report comes down heavily on Italy for playing a major role in funding such detention camps and training human smugglers to serve as border guards.
Italy is the main destination of migrants leaving by boats. The number of migrants reaching its shores has fallen after EU began funding the Libyan coastguard.
Dalhuisen wants EU states to help African migrants to reach Europe through legal means and pressure Libya to close crowded abd illegal detention camps, free all foreign detainees and give free access to UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“Libyan authorities must formally recognise UNHCR’s mandate, sign the Refugee Convention and adopt an asylum law. The automatic detention of migrants must also stop as that is when the worst abuses occur,” said Dalhuisen.