Amnesty accuses European Union of complicity in human rights violations in Libya

Migrants are seen on a boat as they are being rescued by Libyan coast guards at the coast of Tripoli

European governments are "knowingly complicit" in the horrific abuse of migrants in Libya, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

"European governments have not just been fully aware of these abuses; by actively supporting the Libyan authorities in stopping sea-crossings and containing people in Libya, they are complicit in these crimes", John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's head for Europe, said.

The London-based human rights group also said that the Libyan coast guard "accepted kickbacks from smugglers to let migrant boats leave for Europe".

Libya is the main gateway for migrants trying to cross to Europe by sea, though numbers have dropped sharply since July as Libyan factions and authorities have begun to block departures under pressure from Italy, the main landing point. According to some estimates, as many as 35,000 migrants have drowned while making the treacherous journey through the Mediterranean since the 1990s.

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Last month, USA news channel CNN reported that many African migrants in Libya had been captured by local criminal gangs and sold into slavery in lawless regions near Tripoli. "They must insist so that Libyan authorities end policies and practices of arbitrary arrests and detention of refugees and migrants, immediately release all foreigners held in detention centers and allow the UNHCR to operate without obstacles".

According to the latest figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), almost 420,000 migrants from 38 nationalities are trapped in Libya as about 120,000 individuals arrived in Europe this year.

The UN-backed government in Tripoli said on Saturday that Italy and Libya were to set up a joint commission in an attempt to fight back against people traffickers and tackle illegal migration.

"Overwhelmed by the arrival of more than one million migrants in 2015, the European Union has worked with Libya and its neighbors to cut off the main migration route from Africa to Europe", AP said it its report, adding that the strategy has including "training and equipping Libya's coast guard to stop boats trying to make the unsafe Mediterranean Sea crossing".



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