The EU-Libya deal and the sacrifice of migrants’ human rights

Sub-Saharan migrants and refugees begging for their release in a detention center in Surman, Libya Sub-Saharan migrants and refugees begging for their release in a detention center in Surman, Libya Narciso Contreras for the Fondation Carmignac

17 November 2017
“The international community cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the unimaginable horrors endured by migrants in Libya”, UN warned.

In a statement issued on 14 November 2017, the UN Human Rights chief,  Zeid Ra’ad al – Hussein, openly condemned the deal between the European Union and Libya to stem migrants’ flows from Africa, describing it as “inhuman”. Looking in particular at the EU’s policy of assisting the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept people trying to cross the Mediterranean and return them to prisons, the UN Human Rights chief said that “what was an already dire situation has now turned catastrophic” and “the suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity”.

As a matter of fact, UN human rights monitors, deployed to Libya from 1 to 6 November, were shocked by what they witnessed in four detention camps: thousands of undernourished and traumatized men, women and children who suffer abuses, torture, and rape daily, with no access to medical assistance and legal aid.

Moreover, the terrible condition of migrants in Libya has been confirmed by a recent CNN investigative report that has shown how African migrants are being bought and sold openly in modern-day slave markets throughout the north African country, under the control of traffickers and organized gangs.

As a result, the UN Human Rights chief urged Libyan authorities to take concrete steps to halt violations in the detention centres, and to fight against impunity of all perpetrators of those abuses. Reacting to UN’s charges, EU said that detention centres in Libya must be closed because the situation in these camps is “unacceptable”. At the same time,  EU ensured its commitment to work only “in cooperation with UN”, for instance funding several projects aimed to “protect human beings and fight against traffickers” in the country . From 16 to 22 December, an Official Delegation of Members of the EU Parliament will be deployed to Libya to verify the current situation.


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