Libya: Amnesty, foreigners facing worse conditions

Report denounces violence by militia, abuse, exploitation

14 November, 12:40

(ANSAmed) - Rome, November 14 - Foreign nationals in Libya are at risk of exploitation and arbitrary detention as well as violence and torture, according to a new report by Amnesty International released yesterday. The report, 'We are foreigners, we have no rights', is based on fact-finding visits by Amnesty officials between May and September this year, to investigate the conditions of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in Libya. According to the report, the abuses by Libyan authorities during the 42-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi, especially foreigners from Sub-Sahara Africa, 'have not only continued but worsened' in a climate of lawlessness following the 2011 conflict and the inability of authorities to tackle racism and xenophobia.

'The Libyan authorities must acknowledge the extent of the abuse by militias and put in place measures to protect all foreign nationals from violence and abuse, regardless of their origin or immigration status', said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

Migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees in Libya are at risk of being arrested and detained in the streets, markets, checkpoints or their homes, the Amnesty report said, noting that some foreigners are arrested by police, but most are apprehended by armed militiamen. 'Between May and September 2012, Amnesty International visited nine detention centres across Libya where, at the time of the visits some 2,700 foreign nationals, including pregnant women, women with young children, and unaccompanied children detained alongside adult strangers, were held for migration-related offences', the report said. 'The detainees told Amnesty International that they had been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including beatings'. In spite of the risks they are facing, migrants from countries such as Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan are continuing to enter and remain caught-up in a country where authorities do not make a distinction between migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. 'Because of their irregular status, individuals in need of international protection are similarly at risk of arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention and torture or other ill-treatment', Amnesty denounced. 'Asylum seekers and refugees in Libya remain in a state of legal limbo, as Libya lacks a functional asylum-system and refuses to sign a memorandum of understanding with the UN Refugee Agency, the UNHCR'. Libyans officials told Amnesty International that approximately 4,000 foreign nationals have been deported between January and September 2012. (ANSAmed)
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