Tunisi/Rome, 23 July 2019.
Today, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, ASGI and ARCI submitted a joint request to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, demanding an investigation into the gross human rights violations against refugees and migrants in Libyan detention centers. The three NGOs also requested the Commission, pending a detailed probe, to provisionally order the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) to stop immediately abuses against refugees and migrants detained in centers throughout Libya, including in Tajoura, Zawiya and Zintan.
The request, which is the result of close cooperation and joint commitment among African and European organizations, is part of a broader effort to challenge illegal policies aimed at curbing migration flows, undertaken by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies in cooperation with the Libyan Platform Coalition, by ASGI through the Sciabaca project, and by ARCI through the #externalizationpolicieswatch project. Cases brought before domestic and international courts so far also challenge actions by the EU and its member States, especially Italy such as delegating pushbacks to the Libyan Coastguard and contributing to the system of illegal detentions in Libya.
The allegations contained in today’s request are based on documentation publicy available and on field research and testimonies collected from a number of persons currently detained in Tajoura, Zawiya and Zintan, who claim to have been tortured, kept in inhumane conditions, starved, denied access to sanitation, food and legal aid. The three detention centers are officially run by the Ministry of Interior of the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli. In addition to a network of over 20 such official centers, there is an unknown number of unofficial detention facilities throughout Libya directly operated by armed militias, where migrants and refugees are systematically abused, including through torture.
The egregious violations perpetrated by Libyan GNA authorities and armed groups against foreigners in Libya have been widely documented and condemned by all major international agencies, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and non-governmental organizations including Amnesty International, Medecins Sans Frontieres and Human Rights Watch.
The request submitted today alleges multiple violations of fundamental rights guaranteed by the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ rights, including Prohibition of Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment (Article 5), Right to Personal Liberty and Protection from Arbitrary Arrest (Article 6) and Right to Fair Trial (Article 7). The three NGOs claim that these violations entail Libyan GNA’s responsibility both for its actions in official detention centers and for its failure to prevent or punish abuses committed by armed militias in unofficial detention centers.
The African Commission is presently holding its 26th extraordinary session in Banjul, Gambia, and may decide to open a formal inquiry into the claims and subsequently bring the situation before the African Court for Human and Peoples’ Rights.
NGO coalition requests African Commission on Human Rights to probe atrocities against migrants in Libya