Libyan coastguards accused of making illicit money from migrants in the open sea
UK-supported Libyan coastguard forces are making illegal money by stopping migrant vessels, detaining the refugees, exposing them to brutal violence and releasing them only after they pay, according to The Independent citing victim’s accounts.
Britain, among other countries, has been supporting Libya’s coastguard with training, money and equipment despite heavily documented evidence of refugees being abused and held prisoner, according to The Independent.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has collected numerous testimonies from migrants who were detained at sea by Libyan coastguards and had to subsequently bribe their way out of Libyan detention centers.
According to the documented evidence reported by The Independent, the coastguard is using its legitimate power to collude with the smugglers and further facilitate illegal human trafficking.
Judith Sunderland, the associate Europe director for Human Rights Watch, explained that there could be an “overlap” between smugglers, armed groups and recognized authorities in Libya, which remains “fractured between two rival governments and numerous militias.”
“We are concerned about the violent, reckless, erratic behavior of coastguard forces receiving support and equipment from Europe,” Sunderland said, as quoted by The Independent.
The EU’s handling of the crisis has faced a storm of criticism by human rights watchdogs, which demand more action from Brussels to stop the way asylum-seekers are treated while trying to flee the country.
Sunderland further said that these coastguards are unreliable partners and there is a clear danger that EU money, training and equipment is “feeding a vicious cycle contributing to further pain and suffering, and ultimately not serving its aims.”
According to multiple accounts of migrants the Libyan officers beat them and rob them after intercepting them at sea, the media outlet reported.