At least 2,600 migrants and refugees intercepted at sea by the Libyan authorities have been transferred in the past two months alone to Libyan detention centers where they often face extortion and even torture, Amnesty International said. The human rights organization criticized the European Union for being complicit in these abuses by actively supporting the stopping of sea crossings by the Libyan authorities and thus sending migrants back to the hostile detention centers.
“The EU is turning a blind eye to the suffering caused by its callous immigration policies that outsource border control to Libya,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director. “When European leaders spare no effort to ensure the Libyan Coast Guard intercepts as many people as possible, they are sending those migrants and refugees straight back to Libya’s detention centers which are notorious for abuse and torture. No one should be sending anyone back to Libya.”
It is estimated that at least 7,000 migrants and refugees are currently detained in centers across Libya, living in dire conditions. This marks an increase from March when the centers were housing around 4,000 people. “The EU must stop using the Libyan Coast Guard to contain people in Libya, and instead work to close detention centers, resettle refugees in Europe, and enable UNHCR to assist all refugees across Libya,” Heba Morayef said. The EU has actively supported the Libyan Coast Guard by providing it with equipment and training. Earlier this year, the Italian Coast Guard started handing over the coordination of rescue operations to the Libyan Coast Guard.