Amnesty has condemned the horrific violations being committed against migrants who are returned to Libya after they try to cross the Mediterranean to head to Europe.
In a report entitled ‘No one will look for you’: Forcibly returned from sea to abusive detention in Libya, the group said new evidence emerged of “harrowing violations, including sexual violence, against men, women and children” intercepted at sea and forcibly returned to detention centres in the North African country.
The report condemns the ongoing complicity of European states in the abuse, as they continue to cooperate with the authorities in war-torn Libya.
Former detainees at Tripoli’s Shara’ Al-Zawiya centre said guards raped women and others were coerced into sex in exchange for their release or for essentials like clean water, the report says.
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Two young women at the facility attempted to take their own lives as a result of abuse. Three women said that two babies detained with their mothers after an attempted sea crossing died after guards refused to transfer them to hospital for urgent medical treatment.
Shara’ Al-Zawiya was previously run by militia groups but has recently been integrated into Libya’s Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration, part of the Ministry of the Interior.
Despite repeated promises to deal with such abuses, the Libyan authorities have failed to do so – while the Directorate has effectively legitimised abuse by its integration of notorious militia-run facilities, Amnesty says.
Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director, said:
“This horrifying report sheds new light on the suffering of people intercepted at sea and returned to Libya, where they are immediately funnelled into arbitrary detention and systematically subjected to torture, sexual violence, forced labour and other exploitation with total impunity.”