More evidence of abuses in Libya should spur EU to help people seeking safety

More evidence of abuses in Libya should spur EU to help people seeking safety

  • Spokesperson recently returned from Tunisia where he interviewed migrants and refugees subjected to abuses in Libya

Ahead of the meeting of European Home Affairs Ministers, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have today published a 20-point action plan to address the current unsustainable situation in the Mediterranean which is leaving boats stranded at sea and people illegally detained in Libya.

It is imperative that European governments work together to find a temporary agreement on a predictable way to share the responsibility for the women, men and children rescued in the Mediterranean. Otherwise we will continue seeing the grim and dangerous pattern of rescue boats being left stranded at sea for weeks as EU countries refuse to let them dock,”

Matteo de Bellis, Migration Researcher at Amnesty International

EU countries have consistently acted to block the arrival of seaborne refugees and migrants by hampering rescues in the Central Mediterranean, and by supporting the Libyan Coast Guard which intercepts people at sea and forces them back to Libya.  This has resulted in refugees and migrants becoming trapped in Libya where they are exposed to serious abuses including torture.

The joint Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch plan includes a set of measures to protect the human rights of those migrating across the Mediterranean. This includes not only immediate action to rescue people in danger at sea and ensuring their prompt disembarkation and relocation in Europe, but also concrete measures to address the catastrophic situation of people trapped in Libya. To this end European governments should make continuing cooperation with Libya subject to the Libyan authorities ending automatic and indefinite detention of migrants and refugees.

“Refugees and migrants we interviewed in Tunisia last month confirmed that people intercepted at sea by the EU-backed Libyan Coast Guard continue to be returned to detention centres in Libya where torture is widespread,”

Matteo de Bellis

“European governments are well aware of the killings, beatings, rapes and exploitation that take place in Libyan detention centres. If they want to stop being complicit in these atrocities then they must work with the Libyan authorities to ensure the release of the thousands currently held and offer resettlement places to those of them who qualify for it. These hellish detention centres must be closed for good.”


Cut adrift in the Mediterranean, Amnesty International, January 2019

Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Amnesty International, August 2018

Libya’s Dark Web of Collusion, Amnesty International, December 2017

Plan of Action: Twenty steps for a fair and predictable rescue system in the Mediterranean

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Amnesty International press office on [email protected] +32 2 548 27 73 or +32 483 680 812