In an uncensored document from the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in September last year, exclusively obtained by the Morning Star newspaper, the EU flagged that the Libyan government had “continued to arbitrarily detain migrants.”
The Presidency’s document warns that “severe human-rights violations have been widely reported” inside the country’s detention centres and that some were alleged to have “links to human trafficking.”
The report says that Libya has failed to improve the situation in its detention centres and notes that “the government’s reluctance to address the problems raises the question of its own involvement.”
After the bombing of the Tajoura Migrant Detention Centre in July 2019, in which at least 50 people died, Libya agreed to close it and two others. However “so far, any concrete planning has not followed this promise” the document says.
“Major challenges also stem from the unwillingness of the Libyan authorities to co-operate to enable faster evacuations from the detention centres and to provide safe alternatives,” it says.
“The reluctance of officials to co-operate is closely linked to the widely reported human-rights violations that take place in the detention centres and to the fact that the facilities form a profitable business model for the current Libyan government.”
The description of the LCG in the unredacted “restricted” version of the Presidency’s document aligns with complaints made by non-government migrant-rescue organisations.
Axel Steier, co-founder of the German refugee-rescue charity Mission Lifeline said: “The EU already has all the measures, tools and means to rescue refugees at sea but no obvious intention to do so.
“The EU is intentionally failing to assist refugees and knowingly supporting human-rights violations by the LCG,” Mr Steier said.
“Actually, such approach can be seen as willingly and knowingly sentencing people, refugees, to death. This unmasks the EU’s pretence of standing up for human rights.” He added.