By Libya Herald reporters.
Tunis, 14 November 2017:
The EU’s support for Libyan Coastguard anti-migrant patrols is “inhuman”, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said today.
“We cannot be a silent witness to modern day slavery, rape and other sexual violence and unlawful killings in the name of managing migration and preventing desperate and traumatised people from reaching Europe’s shores,” said Zeid.
At the start of this month human rights monitors visited four migrant detention camps in Tripoli. They were “shocked by what they witnessed: thousands of emaciated and traumatised men, women and children piled on top of one another, locked up in hangars with no access to the most basic necessities, and stripped of their human dignity said the UN organisation”.
According to the Office of the High Commissoner for Human Rights (OHCHR), detainees at the centres said they are often beaten or prodded with electric sticks if they ask for food and medicine. “There are no functioning toilets in the hangar-like facilities and the detainees find it difficult to survive the smell of urine and faeces.” Rape and other sexual violence, it said, appeared commonplace.
This September the UN recorded 7,000 migrants being held in camps. As a result of the EU-backed clampdown, during which thousands of migrants were captured in the major trafficking hub of Sabratha, the figure has jumped to nearly 20,000.
The OHCHR noted: “The European Union is providing assistance to the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept migrant boats in the Mediterranean. This includes in international waters, despite concerns raised by rights groups that this would condemn more migrants to arbitrary and indefinite detention and expose them to forced labour or extortion”.
Zeid has urged the Libyan authorities to stamp out human rights violations at centres under their control. He has also called the international community “not to turn a blind eye to the unimaginable horrors endured by migrants in Libya”.
Zeid’s intervention comes in the wake of a CNN broadcast in which reporter Nima Elbagir and her cameraman last month secretly filmed a slave market at an unnamed town outside Tripoli at which black migrants were sold as labourers for up to LD800.