Are the rights of migrants ensured in EU-Libya relations?

Amnesty International EU Office Press Release
Are the rights of migrants ensured in EU-Libya relations

(Brussels, 23 June) In a letter to the European Commission, Amnesty International is calling on the EU and its member states to ensure that any bilateral agreement with Libya is based on the full respect for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants.  This notably includes the EU-Libya Framework Agreement that is currently being negotiated.

The organization’s report Libya of Tomorrow: What Hope for Human Rights

released today shows that refugees, asylum-seekers and irregular migrants are exploited, beaten and abused in ways that can constitute torture, while held in the custody of Libyan authorities. Several thousands are being held in overcrowded detention centres indefinitely and many are at constant risk of being sent back to countries such as Eritrea and Somalia, where they may face persecution and torture. |

The decision by the Libyan government to expel the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has further complicated the lives of 9,000 registered refugees and the 3,700 asylum-seekers in the country. Libya is not a state party to the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees and lacks a national asylum law or refugee protection system. This means that Libya will not recognize the need for people to receive international protection and state bodies in the country continuously refer to refugees and asylum seekers as “economic migrants”.

Since 2008, the EU has sought Libya’s cooperation to control the flow of migrants to European shores with the negotiation of a framework agreement. The agreement would include control of migration, with a potential readmission agreement for third-country nationals who have transited through Libya on their way to Europe. Italy has already concluded an agreement with Libya to combat “illegal immigration” by joint patrolling of the Mediterranean. Over the past year, Italy has started to return migrants to Libya after intercepting their vessels on international waters, without checking if individuals onboard were in need of international protection or basic humanitarian assistance.

It is clear that Libya continuously fails to respect international laws and obligations, leaving refugees and asylum-seekers, in a terrible situation, full of fear and intimidation. At the same time it is unacceptable that individuals are intercepted at sea by Libyan vessels provided by EU member states and sent back to Libya. The EU and individual member states must ensure that human rights are at the core of any agreement with Libya and that every agreement recognizes explicit rights for migrants,” says Nicolas Beger, the director of Amnesty International’s EU office.

For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
Tel: 32-2-502 1499/32-2-548 2773
Email: [email protected]