Serious human rights violations in Libya

A new report by Amnesty International denounces serious human rights violations committed in Libya to migrants who are intercepted at sea while trying to reach Europe. The 58-page report, entitled “Between Life and Death”, details “horrific abuses“, including unlawful deprivation of liberty, killings, sexual violence and forced labour, such as women working as housekeepers who were sexually harassed or men who reported being beaten and prevented from eating during detention.

The research is based on the information provided in interviews with 43 individuals, including 32 migrants and 11 people who had access to migrants of detention facilities such as NGO staff, activists and journalists, as well as the review of official documents issued by national and international organisations and verified multimedia material, including satellite footage.

It was launched on September 24, following the announcement of the European Commission of the new Pact on Migration and Asylum. Amnesty International condemned EU cooperation with Libya and criticises the EU member states that “have trapped” migrants in Libya, “to reduce the number of people irregularly arriving in Europe by sea,” the document reads. 

In 2008, Italy signed a deal with Libya, granting it $5 billion, to stop migrant boats from leaving the Libyan coast. Since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011, amid the instability of the war, people from African and Middle Eastern have used Libya as a transit point to Europe. In a recent speech quoted by UN news, Faiez Mustafa Serraj, President of the interim government for Libya, called the report “exaggerated”, arguing Libya is a victim of migration, not the cause.