4 July 2014

Africa: Rights Group Says Somali and Other African Immigrants in Libya Are Tortured

Guards in migrant detention centers under Libyan government control have tortured and otherwise abused migrants and asylum seekers, including with severe whippings, beatings, and electric shocks.

Human Rights Watch released preliminary findings from its investigation in the country which included interviews with 138 detainees, almost 100 of whom reported torture and other abuses. The alleged abuses, massive overcrowding, dire sanitation conditions, and lack of access to adequate medical care in eight of the nine centers that Human Rights Watch visited breachLibya's obligations not to engage in torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

"Detainees have described to us how male guards strip-searched women and girls and brutally attacked men and boys," said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher. "The political situation in Libya may be tough, but the government has no excuse for torture and other deplorable violence by guards in these detention centers."

Libya's coast guard, which receives European Union (EU) and Italian support, intercepts or rescues hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers each week as they head to Italy in smugglers' boats and detains them pending deportation, together with thousands of others apprehended in Libya for entering the country without permission or for staying without valid residence documents.

Both the EU and Italy also support Libya's detention centers by rehabilitating some centers and funding international and Libyan non-governmental organizations providing assistance there. The EU and Italy have committed at least €12 million over the next four years to the centers.


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