August 18, 2022

Amnesty says EU leaders complicit in torture of refugees and migrants

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In this photo made available Thursday, April 23, 2015, migrants crowd and inflatable dinghy as rescue vassel ” Denaro ” of the Italian Coast Guard approaches them, off the Libyan coast, in the Mediterranean Sea, Wednesday, April 22, 2015. European Union leaders gathering for an extraordinary summit are facing calls from all sides to take emergency action to save lives in the Mediterranean, where hundreds of migrants are missing and feared drowned in recent days. (Alessandro Di Meo/ANSA via AP Photo) ITALY OUT

From WN

European leaders stand accused by Amnesty International of being knowingly complicit in the torture and exploitation of thousands of migrants and refugees by the European Union-financed Libyan coast guard and officials running the country’s detention camps, The Guardian reports.

In attempts to stem the flow of people across the Mediterranean to Europe, the EU is financing a system that routinely acts in collusion with militia groups and people traffickers to “make money from human suffering,” a report from the human rights group claims.

Following the provision of ships, training and funding from the EU and Italy to the Libyan coast guard, the number of arrivals to Italy fell by 67 percent between July and November compared with the same period in 2016. Deaths at sea have been reduced commensurately.

Yet Amnesty claims the coast guard and those to whom they hand over refugees, migrants and asylum seekers, are often acting in cahoots with criminal gangs and militia.

Agreements between the coast guard and smugglers are signaled by markings on boats that allow specific vessels to pass through Libyan waters without interception, it is claimed. The coast guard has also been known to escort boats out to international waters.

Those are who are intercepted on their way to Europe are sent to camps run by the Libyan general directorate for combating illegal migration (DCIM), where torture for the purposes of extracting money is almost routine, Amnesty reports.

One man from Gambia, who was detained for three months, told Amnesty how he was starved and beaten in a detention center.

“They beat me with a rubber hose because they want money to release me. They call the family while beating [you] so the family send money.” – Gambian refugee

After interviews with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants and meetings with Libyan officials and others with knowledge of the abuses, Amnesty claims it now has sufficient evidence to take leaders of EU states to international courts over alleged abuses of human right obligations.

“You will see us in court,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s Europe director. “Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants trapped in Libya are at the mercy of the Libyan authorities, militias, armed groups and smugglers often working seamlessly together for financial gain. Tens of thousands are kept indefinitely in overcrowded detention centers where they are subjected to systematic abuse.

“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,” Dalhuisen said., Jim Berrie

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