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Rights group decries treatment of asylum seekers in Libya, Italy

[JURIST] Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees face deportation and human rights abuses in Libya, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said in a new report [text; press release] released Wednesday. The monitoring group found that Libya has repatriated 145,000 foreigners between 2003 and 2005, despite the possibility that they will face persecution or torture in their home countries. Migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, flee to Libya in order to escape from persecution or war only to face abuse "in detention, including beatings, overcrowding, substandard conditions, lack of access to a lawyer, and limited information about pending deportations." Due to the over one million foreigners who are in Libya without proper documentation, officials claim the arrests are necessary for public order. To date, Libya has refused to introduce an asylum law or procedure.

HRW said that many of these foreigners make their way to Italy but the nation, along with the European Union [official website], has cooperated with Libya [JURIST news archive] without consideration of the "rights of migrants or the need to protect refugees and others at risk of abuse on return to their home countries." Italy [JURIST news archive] expelled more than 2,800 foreigners in 2004 and 2005 back to Libya, without offering them the opportunity to file asylum claims. HRW did note that the new Italian government has vowed to not expel individuals to countries that have not signed the Refugee Convention [UNHCR materials], which includes Libya. BBC News has more.

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