EU: Borrell must steer Foreign Ministers to draw a line under Libya abuses

The EU’s new foreign affairs chief must draw a line under the EU’s complicity in human rights abuses in Libya, Amnesty International said today, ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting on 9 December. With the situation in Libya on the agenda, Amnesty International is urging High Representative Joseph Borrell to pursue accountability for human rights violations in Libya and end policies which contribute to the suffering of refugees and migrants.

“Mr Borrell has a chance to draw a line under the EU’s current approach to Libya, which sacrifices people’s rights in order to keep them away from the EU. Last week France withdrew their offer to transfer boats for the Libyan Coast Guard, following legal action by NGOs as these boats risked being used to return people to arbitrary detention and torture.  Yet the EU and its Member States continue their dubious cooperation on migration with Libya. Mr Borrell should now steer all EU countries to protect the rights of refugees and migrants rather than containing them in a conflict-ridden country where they face persecution and exploitation,” said Eve Geddie, Director of the Amnesty International European Institutions Office.

Amnesty International has raised concerns in the past about the situation of refugees and migrants in Libya, and in particular of those who are intercepted at sea by the EU-supported Libyan Coast Guard, returned to Libya and arbitrarily detained in centres where torture is rife. The organization has also repeatedly denounced the broader culture of impunity thriving in Libya, which has fuelled systematic and gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law by militias, armed groups and security forces. The multiple violations andpossible war crimes committed during the recent military offensive on Tripoli are a symptom of this impunity.

“The EU has been cynically supporting the Libyan Coast Guard, while other key state functions are desperately lacking. Short-term political interests have been prioritized over the restoration of the rule of law, leaving civilians exposed to appalling human rights abuse and violations of international humanitarian law. Justice, accountability and respect for human rights must be key elements of any efforts to ensure future stability in the country.”

For this reason, Amnesty International is calling for the EU to support the establishment, by the UN Human Rights Council, of a Commission of Inquiry or similar mechanism as a matter of urgency to investigate violations in Libya since 2014 with a view towards identifying suspected perpetrators and ensuring they are held accountable.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Alison Abrahams on [email protected] +32 2 548 27 73 or +32 483 680 812