UN sounds alarm over horrors suffered by migrants detained in Libya

14.12.2016

The breakdown of the Libyan justice system has left migrants in Libya facing torture, rape, slavery and death, the United Nations said in a report that urged the Libyan government to reform its detention centres.

"This is, quite simply, a human rights crisis affecting tens of thousands of people," said Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights.

Since the start of the year, more than 168,000 migrants have arrived in Italy from Libya, many of them citizens of African countries such as Nigeria and Eritrea. While trying to organise their journeys across the Mediterranean, many are detained in government-run warehouses that hold up to 7,000 people.

In some centres, up to half of the inmates suffer malnutrition, according to the report by the UN Support Mission in Libya and the UN Human Rights Office. There have been incidences of guards extorting migrants' families for ransom and torturing or killing their hostages if the money does not come.

There have also been incidences of guards raping, enslaving and injuring detainees, the report said. Other migrants find themselves in unofficial detention centres known as "connection houses", which are run by people-smugglers that hold migrants like prisoners, the report showed.

The UN has also received credible reports that some government officials are involved in the smuggling business. "The breakdown in the justice system has led to a state of impunity, in which armed groups, criminal gangs, smugglers and traffickers control the flow of migrants through the country," the report said. Libya should release all women and child migrants and should shut down all unofficial detention centres, the UN said.    (dpa)

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Migration and human rights: Refugee versus migrant: what's in a name?

 

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