Malta Summit: “Is Libya the right disembarking point for migrants?”

Press release by UN OHCHR
3 February, 2017

Another press release about European migration policies.

“GENEVA (3 February) – As European Union Heads of State or Government gather in Malta to discuss new measures targeting migration movements, including increased cooperation with Libya, a group of United Nations human rights experts* warn the EU against supporting a system in which migrants are pushed back to places where they may be at risk of torture, and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Proposals on the table include capacity-building and training of the Libyan coast guards in search and rescue operations, enhanced border control and prevention of new migration routes through enhanced cooperation with North African States.

“The EU expresses its concern about the loss of life at sea, and we commend any action directed at saving lives. However, we are highly concerned that by agreeing to a deal with Libya, whereby migrants trying to flee human rights violations are being pushed back to those same conditions, the principle of non-refoulement will be violated.

Any engagement with third countries needs to be in line with international human rights standards. The EU member states cannot balk from their responsibility and are accountable for any human rights violation under such an agreement.

By going ahead with this idea, the EU has all but declared Libya a “safe third country”. Limiting departures from the Libyan coast simply means accepting and legitimizing the human suffering prevailing in Libya and pushing people back to conditions where migrants suffer arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment, unlawful killings, trafficking and enforced disappearance. Migrants in Libya are exploited as free labor and vulnerable to other forms of contemporary slavery; migrant women are at risk of rape and other sexual violence.
The Libyan detention centers are severely overcrowded, without access to toilets or washing facilities, ventilation, food or clean water and they have no access to a legal process, lawyers or judicial authorities.

It is vital that the EU expands the resources committed to providing assistance to migrants in distress at sea.

These operations must allow migrants to disembark immediately at the nearest port where their lives and freedoms would not be threatened, providing them with information, offering care and support, processing their asylum claims equitably. From what we know on the conditions in Libya, this country cannot be a port of disembarkation.”

To see the full press release, please click on the following link.

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