By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 22 May 2015:
Military action by European Union . . .[restrict]states to reduce illegal migration across the Mediterranean could expose migrants and asylum seekers to serious risk, asserted Human Rights Watch in a plea for the UN to rethink its plan to destroy boats used by smugglers.
EU NAVFOR Med, a new operation agreed upon by the EU on 18 May, is a naval operation that will identify, capture and destroy smugglers’ boats.
While calling for the EU and other international bodies to hold smugglers and traffickers accountable, HRW is concerned that the operation would serve merely to increase the already high risks for migrants.
HRW also expressed concern that migrants will be trapped in Libya, where the situation is volatile and where they are often mistreated or detained in inhumane conditions. Any plan that includes turning migrants over to the Libyan Coast Guard was especially concerning, the group said.
HRW reminded EU countries of the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibits “sending anyone to a country where they risk torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or threats to their lives or freedoms.”
Rather than focus on destroying boats, the EU should, said HRW, concentrate efforts on providing protection for migrants and improving asylum systems in Europe.
“Saving lives at sea and bringing people at risk in the Mediterranean safely to EU shores should be the top priority,” asserted HRW.
Other recommendations include assisting with conflict resolution in countries of origin and helping transit countries protect migrants.
Libya’s government has expressed opposition to the EU NAVFOR Med operation. [/restrict]