A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Amnesty: EU member states complicit in abuse of refugees in Libya

[JURIST] Amnesty International on Monday accused [report, PDF] EU member states of being complicit in the abuse and torture of refugees and migrants that have journeyed across Africa and are now being detained in Libya.

The Libyan coastguard, detention authorities and smugglers are allegedly colluding with each other to keep hundreds of thousands of migrants trapped in the country for financial gain. Amnesty claims support from the EU is a part of their plan to "curb the scale of a political problem high arrivals cause to EU governments" through the reduction of African immigrants crossing the Mediterranean.

Italy, which has not received help with relocating the influx of asylum seekers [JURIST report] who have settled within their borders, is allegedly spearheading the plan. They, along with other European nations, are accused of using their funds to provide ships and training to the Libyan coastguard so that they are better equipped to intercept and arrest anyone who attempts to leave the country by sea.

The EU claims that their work to help migrants has done more good than harm, but, according to the report, not only have the funds been used to benefit the militias and smugglers connected with the Libyan coastguard, they have been used to endanger the lives of migrants. Footage and documents reviewed [Amnesty press release] by Amnesty indicates that the Libyan coastguard's reckless use of one of the boats Italy donated last April resulted in the death of 50 migrants. This is part of the reason why John Dalhuisen, the director of Europe and Central Asia's Amnesty International chapters, believes the EU is complicit in the grave human rights violation being committed by Libyan officials.

In the report he wrote:

Refugees and migrants are routinely exposed to human rights violations committed by Libyan officials and security forces and abuses at the hands of armed groups and criminal gangs [...] EU and Italian officials cannot plausibly claim to be unaware of the grave violations being committed by some of the detention officials and LCG agents with whom they are so assiduously co-operating. Nor can they credibly claim to have insisted on key rights protection mechanisms and guarantees from their Libyan counterparts, as, in reality, they have not done so. They are, as a result, complicit in these abuses and in breach of their own human rights obligations.
Dalhuisen says that it is imperative for European governments to rethink their relationship with Libyan officials and enable legal pathways for people to migrate to Europe. The release of this report follows the joint statement the European Union made with the African Union condemning [JURIST report] the footage of human traffickers selling migrants as slaves.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.