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EU support for Libya contributes to ‘extreme abuse’ of refugees: Human Rights Watch

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

LIBYA – The EU’s support for Libya’s anti-migrant policies is contributing to a cycle of “extreme abuse”, including arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, extortion and forced labor.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch, who interviewed 66 migrants and asylum seekers in Libya last year, EU institutions and member states are continuing to sustain a network of detention centers characterized by “inhuman and degrading” conditions where the risk of abuse is rife.

Detailing a pattern of treatment in Libyan detention centers which it said “violates international law”, the group accused senior EU officials of being aware of the abuses but repeatedly failing to act.

The report highlights EU assistance to the Libyan coastguard to enable it to intercept migrants and asylum seekers at sea, at which point they are taken to Libya. Italy, in particular, is accused of abdicating virtually all responsibility for coordination of rescue operations at sea in a bid to limit the number of people arriving on its shores”.

“Since 2016, the EU has intensified efforts to prevent boat departures from Libya. EU policymakers and leaders justify this focus as a political and practical necessity to assert control over Europe’s external borders and ‘break the business model of smugglers’, as well as a humanitarian imperative to prevent dangerous boat migration,” said the report, published on Monday.

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