Amnesty International urges Italy, Libya to release refugees trapped in misery

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Ahead of the first anniversary of Italy signing a deal with Libya to put in place measures to stop refugees and migrants from travelling to Europe, thousands of people remain trapped in abusive Libyan detention camps where torture is rife, Amnesty International has said.

“One year ago, the Italian government, backed by their European counterparts, agreed on a dodgy deal with the Libyan government that has trapped thousands in misery,''said Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty International, European Institutions Office.

''People are being forced to endure torture, arbitrary detention, extortion and unthinkable conditions in detention centres run by the Libyan government,” he added in a press statement.

I the Memorandum of Understanding signed on 2 February 2017, Italy agreed to work with Libya’s military and border control forces “to stem the influx of illegal migrants”, thereby preventing migrants – as well as refugees – from reaching Europe.

The Italian strategy was part of a broader European approach, and indeed was endorsed the  next day by European leaders in the ‘Malta Declaration’.

Since then, the Italian government and the EU have provided the Libyan Coast Guard with boats, training and other assistance to patrol the sea and pull back refugees and migrants desperately trying to sail to Europe.

In 2017, about 20,000 people were intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard and taken back to Libya’s notorious detention centres, said the human rights organization.

“Europe urgently needs to put concern for basic human dignity at the centre of its migration policies. While Italy has been in the driving seat, all European governments cooperating with Libya on border control share responsibility for the unlawful containment of refugees and migrants in centres where unconscionable abuses take place,” said  McGowan.

In the last few months, programmes for the ‘assisted voluntary return’ of migrants stranded in Libya have been expanded, with 19,370 returned to their country of origin in 2017.

Smaller pilot projects for the resettlement of a few hundred refugees to France and Italy have also been successfully implemented.

-0- PANA DJ/AR 30Jan2018

30 january 2018 17:53:56




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