Libya’s mass migrant expulsions are illegal

Libya’s plan to deport up to two million illegal African migrants is forbidden under international law and some of those expelled risk torture back home. Libya said last week it had begun the expulsions and instructed housing authorities to destroy makeshift homes and other shelters on the outskirts of Tripoli and other Mediterranean coastal cities where the migrants hide from police raids.

“We call on the Libyan authorities not to implement what appears to be a rushed decision as it would violate the rights of potentially hundreds of thousands of people, including women and children,” Amnesty International deputy programme director Philip Luther said in a statement. The authorities appear to make little attempt to differentiate between migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers such as Eritreans who had fled persecution on account of their political beliefs. “We are worried – said Laura Boldrini, spokesperson for UNHCR – as most of asylum seekers in Italy and EU come from Eastern Africa, through Libya, so we need different strategies and policies for them”.

According to NGOs, there had been persistent allegations of torture and ill-treatment of illegal migrants in Libya and urged the authorities to give them medical treatment and the possibility to mount a legal challenge to their detention. The north African country welcomed people from across the continent during the 1990s as it sought to draw cheap labour to help repair an economy laid low by international sanctions. Officials and locals now blame them for taking jobs from unemployed Libyan youths, while European governments are pressuring Tripoli to stem the onward flow of illegal migration from its shores. Sub-Saharan Africans usually walk into Libya in the cool of the winter across the Saharan border and work for a couple of years in menial jobs or the booming construction industry to build up cash to pay traffickers for illegal passage to Europe.

Libya: Migrants abused, but Europe turns blind eye (Human Rights Watch report)
BBC: Marching orders for migrants in Libya?

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