Tripoli — HUMAN rights groups have blamed European Union (EU) policies for the detention of children, among other cases of extreme abuse against migrants in Libya.
Newborns are among those behind bars in four detention centres around the troubled North African country. Guards are accused of beating and whipping migrants.
There is severe overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, malnutrition and lack of adequate health care.
This follows migrants' failed trips to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the EU and Italy's support for the Libyan Coast Guard contributed significantly to the interception of migrants and asylum seekers and their subsequent detention in arbitrary, abusive detention in Libya.
"Migrants and asylum seekers detained in Libya, including children, are trapped in a nightmare," said Judith Sunderland, associate Europe director at HRW.
She said EU governments were perpetuating detention instead of getting people out of the abusive conditions.
Most countries in Europe are reluctant to receive migrants rescued in the Mediterranean, prompting their return to conflict-torn Libya.
Sunderland said the EU must rethink their strategy to avoid complicity in gross human rights abuses.
"EU leaders know how bad things are in Libya but continue to provide political and material support to prop up a rotten system," she said.
The European Commission has pledged dialogue with Libyan authorities focusing on respect for the rights of migrants and refugees.