UN crit­i­cises EU Libya co­op­er­a­tion over mi­grant flow

Euro­pean Union’s pooicy of heop­ing Libyan au­thor­i­ties in­ter­cept mi­grants in 0editer­ranean and re­turn them to ‘hor­rific’ pris­ons in Libya is in­hu­man, says UN hu­man rights chief Zeid

The Gulf Today - - Middle East -

GENEVA: The Euro­pean Union’s pol­icy of help­ing the Libyan au­thor­i­ties in­ter­cept mi­grants in the Mediter­ranean and re­turn them to “hor­riic” pris­ons in Libya is “in­hu­man”, the United Na­tions said on Tues­day.

“The suf­fer­ing of mi­grants de­tained in Libya is an out­rage to the con­science of hu­man­ity,” the UN hu­man rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hus­sein said in a state­ment.

“The Euro­pean Union’s pol­icy of as­sist­ing the Libyan Coast Guard to in­ter­cept and re­turn mi­grants in the Mediter­ranean (is) in­hu­man,” he said.

Chaos-rid­den Libya has long been a ma­jor tran­sit hub for mi­grants try­ing to reach Europe, and many refugees and mi­grants have fallen prey to se­ri­ous abuse there at the hands of hu­man trafick­ers and oth­ers.

Zeid warned on Tues­day that “the de­ten­tion sys­tem for mi­grants in Libya is bro­ken beyond re­pair.”

“The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity can­not con­tinue to turn a blind eye to the unimag­in­able hor­rors en­dured by mi­grants in Libya, and pre­tend that the sit­u­a­tion can be reme­died only by im­prov­ing con­di­tions in de­ten­tion.”

Zeid’s com­ments came af­ter min­is­ters from 13 Euro­pean and African coun­tries on Mon­day pledged steps aimed at eas­ing the mi­grant cri­sis around the Mediter­ranean, vow­ing es­pe­cially to help im­prove con­di­tions for mi­grants held in Libya.

At a meet­ing in Bern of the con­tact group on the cri­sis along the so-called Cen­tral Mediter­ranean mi­gra­tion route, the min­is­ters also re­it­er­ated a pledge to strengthen Libya’s coast guard.

Italy, with the sup­port of the Euro­pean Union, has since the sum­mer been train­ing the Libyan coast guard to in­ter­cept boat mi­grants as part of a con­tro­ver­sial deal that has sent mi­grant ar­rivals to Italy down nearly 70 per cent since July.

The UN rights ofice crit­i­cised Euro­pean coun­tries for ig­nor­ing warnings that the deal could con­demn more mi­grants to de­ten­tion, ex­pos­ing them to tor­ture, rape, forced labour and ex­tor­tion.

“Those de­tained have no pos­si­bil­ity to chal­lenge the le­gal­ity of their de­ten­tion, and no ac­cess to le­gal aid,” it said.

Zeid called for the de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of ir­reg­u­lar mi­gra­tion, in­sist­ing that “only al­ter­na­tives to de­ten­tion can save mi­grants’ lives and phys­i­cal se­cu­rity, pre­serve their dig­nity and pro­tect them from fur­ther atroc­i­ties.”

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hus­sein

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