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Amnesty International & HRW want EU to limit cooperation with Libyan Coast Guard

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

BRUSSELS – Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are calling on the European Union to limit its cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard because of the manner in which rescued migrants are treated.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said the Libyan Coast Guard was not treating migrants humanely and returning them to detention centers in Libya where abuse was rife.

The two human rights groups called for the role of the Libyan Coast Guard to be limited “to cases where their intervention is essential to prevent immediate loss of life”.

Both groups also called on the EU to ask the Libyan Coast Guard to “limit their search and rescue activities to Libyan waters except when their vessels are able most quickly to respond to a vessel in distress in international waters”.

This comes as part of a 20-point action plan published on Wednesday by the two groups ahead of a meeting of EU home affairs ministers.

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch are calling for a temporary EU agreement between willing member states to determine what happens to rescued migrants. This agreement would avoid a ship-by-ship solution that was leaving rescue vessels stranded at sea and migrants trapped in abusive detention centers in Libya.

The groups also called for search and rescue operations by civilian vessels and boats operated by NGOs to be allowed “unhindered” close to Libya. They also called on the EU to “refrain from instructing them to disembark in Libya those they have rescued or to transfer them onto Libyan ships.”

The two groups also called on the EU to “ensure robust monitoring of the Libyan Coast Guard conduct and operations at sea, and an accountability process in case of breaches of international law.”

EU countries have consistently acted to block the arrival of seaborne refugees and migrants by refusing entry to NGO vessels that rescue migrants at sea.

The EU supports the Libyan Coast Guard of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) which intercepts people at sea and forces them back to Libya. Human rights organizations do not consider Libya to be a safe harbor for migrants. Reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch documented severe abuses against migrants in detention centers, including rape and torture.

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