September 20, 2021

Amnesty denounces the ‘shameful’ complicity of Europeans in the fate of migrants returned to Libya

‘Atrocious’ treatment. Amnesty International (AI) expresses concern over mistreatment of migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean and forcibly sent to detention centers in Libya, with the ‘shameful’ help of Europeans, in a report published Thursday, July 15.

‘This appalling report sheds new light on the suffering of those intercepted at sea and returned to Libya, where they are immediately arbitrarily detained and systematically subjected to torture, sexual violence, forced labor and other forms of ‘exploitation with impunity,’ said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

‘At the same time, the Libyan authorities rewarded those who were […] suspected of having committed such violations with […] promotions,’ she added.

Complicity of European States

The NGO called on the Libyan authorities to close these detention centers ‘immediately’. She also denounced ‘the complicity of European states which shamefully continue to help the Libyan coast guard to capture people at sea and to forcibly return them to the hell of detention in Libya’.

European states ‘must suspend cooperation on migration and border controls with Libya’, and ‘urgently help thousands of people stranded there and in need of protection,’ Amnesty said.

In its report, Amnesty International claims that at the end of 2020, the Libyan Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM, under the Interior Ministry) ‘legitimized’ these human rights violations by taking control of two managed detention centers. by militias, where hundreds of refugees and migrants have been forcibly disappeared in recent years.


In one of these centers, witnesses reported rapes of women by guards. The latter forced them to have sex ‘in exchange for food or their freedom’, according to the NGO.

Plunged into chaos since the fall of Muammar Gadhafi’s regime in 2011, Libya has become a privileged route for tens of thousands of migrants who try to reach Europe by sea at the risk of their lives.

UN agencies and NGOs operating in the Mediterranean regularly denounce European policies of forced return of migrants to Libya, where they are held in detention centers under very harsh conditions.