Switzerland slams Amnesty International report, denies its accusations about Libya human rights abuse

African refugees and migrants, mostly from Sudan and Senegal, wait for help off the Libyan coast earlier this year.
[photo: The Associated Press]
Switzerland has denied accusations of Amnesty International that it was, together with other EU countries, an accomplice in human rights violations against illegal immigrants in Libya.

“Protecting the rights of refugees and migrants is a top priority, including in Libya,” a Swiss government spokesperson has told swissinfo.ch in response to Amnesty International accusations that Bern is complicit in “horrific abuse of refugees and migrants” in Libyan detention centres.

In a report released on Tuesday, human rights organisation Amnesty International said European governments are actively supporting a sophisticated system of abuse and exploitation of refugees and migrants by the Libyan Coast Guard, detention authorities and smugglers in order to prevent people from crossing the Mediterranean.

The report is targeted mainly at Italy and the European Union, but the Swiss section of Amnesty International said in a separate statement that Switzerland is also actively cooperating with the Libyan authorities and has made CHF1 million ($1 million) available to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for training and equipping the Libyan Coast Guard.

“The Swiss authorities must ensure that technical and financial cooperation with the Libyan authorities does not contribute to violations of the human rights of migrants and refugees in that country,” said a statement from Amnesty International Switzerland.

Swiss Justice Ministry spokesperson Emmanuelle Jaquet von Sury said Switzerland put protection of refugees and migrants at the top of a recent summit of the Central Mediterranean Contact Group which it hosted in Bern in November. The summit agreed in principle measures to improve conditions in Libyan detention centres and find alternatives to them, she said.

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