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E.U. perpetuates forced labor in Libya, Amnesty International reports

  • Published on
    July 22, 2021
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  • Category:
    Forced Labor, Human Trafficking, Law & Policy
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Trigger warning: this article contains references to sexual abuse and suicide.

A new report by Amnesty International has strongly condemned the role of the European Union in perpetuating the “abusive” detention and “cycles of human rights violations” of migrants turned away in Europe and sent to Libya.

Amnesty’s report is based on interviews with 53 refugees and migrants between the ages of 14 and 50. All interviewees had been held in detention centers in Libya, most of whom had been abused in some shape or form.

Al Jazeera reports,

Amnesty cited survivor testimony from one facility of guards subjecting women to sexual violence “in exchange for their release or for essentials such as clean water”, or their freedom.

One said she was heavily beaten for refusing to comply with such a demand, saying: “I told [the guard] no. He used a gun to knock me back. He used a leather soldier’s shoe … to [kick] me from my waist.”

Two young women at the facility attempted suicide as a result of such abuse, Amnesty said.

Others, including boys, described being groped, prodded and violated.

Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Eltahawy, has condemned the return and detention system as “rotten to its core”, noting it “must be dismantled.”

The report finds that,

The violations documented against refugees and migrants are not an accident but rather the clear and anticipated outcomes of an EU-supported system of interception, disembarkation and return to detention centres notorious for abuse, built with the aim of keeping refugees and migrants out of Europe at all costs. Yet its results are incompatible both with purported policy aims of ensuring safe migration and international legal obligations that individuals not be returned to countries where they face grave human rights violations.

It goes on to recommend the E.U. suspend its cooperation with Libyan border authorities. The E.U. currently financially supports the Libyan Coastguard in its operations of returning migrants to Libya.

However, this is despite the fact that multiple sources have reported the callous, violent and abusive treatment of migrants by the Coastguard.

Reports include willfully capsizing vessels in the Mediterranean. Freedom United supporters have been advocating for an end to E.U. support of the Coastguard since 2017.

The E.U. is currently violating its human rights obligations, as ruled by the European Court of Human Rights in 2012 of Italy’s pushback against migrants. It must be held accountable.

Join us in telling the E.U. that they are not above international human rights standards and they must put human lives before immigration policies.


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Susan Anne Booth
Susan Anne Booth
2 years ago

I think that no one had many idea how many people would be more trying to get to Europe at the time, it has escalated to a number far beyond what people thought it would be and it is unacceptable to the people who live there. Common sense has to prevail, people have had enough, it is storing up trouble for the future of Europe,.There has to be another way to deal with it.

Hector RE
Hector RE
2 years ago

What we would have in our head… anything… but not brain.
Teach, learn, help to create, make creators. Is what is necessary in one and all the human being to be able to integrate the humanity. We only give pain, and torture; bun in each human being there is a creator. No jail for the body and for the soul. Is time to seat and talk, about to free women and men from any slavery, in any part of the world. Is time to change financial benefits, for job opportunities and NOT a beggin system

Dariusz Wojtow
Dariusz Wojtow
2 years ago

About one million Muslim migrants immigrated to Europe in the last few years. How to accomodate this ammount of people….? More are coming. How to feed these people…?

Roland Scales
Roland Scales
2 years ago

Individual governments such as Greece, France and Italy are responsible for human rights violations, but it is stretching the point to lay the blame at the EU’s door.

Nevertheless, I think that the European Parliament and the Council of Europe should be encouraged to take a moral stand on the matter and therefore I shall sign the petition.

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