In a new study, the UN head stated that over 12,000 detainees are held officially in 27 prisons and detention centres across Libya, while thousands more are held unlawfully and often in horrific conditions in institutions controlled by armed groups or’secret’ facilities. In a report obtained Monday by The Associated Press, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that the UN political mission in Libya, known as UNSMIL, continues to document cases of arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, and other violations of international law in government and non-government facilities.
He claims that the thousands of detainees who do not appear in Libyan authorities’ official figures (over 12,000) are unable to contest their prolonged custody on legal grounds. In his report to the United Nations Security Council, Guterres stated, “I am extremely disturbed by the continuing breaches of migrants’, refugees’, and asylum seekers’ human rights in Libya.” Armed organisations, transnational smugglers and traffickers, as well as officials from the Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration, which is part of the Ministry of Interior, continue to put female and male migrants and refugees at risk of rape, sexual harassment, and trafficking, according to him.
UNSMIL documented cases in the Mitiga prison facility and several detention centres run by the Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration in al-Zawiyah and in and around the capital Tripoli, according to the UN chief. UNSMIL also received credible information on trafficking and sexual abuse of around 30 Nigerian women and children in the Mitiga prison facility and several detention centres run by the Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration in al-Zawiyah and in and around the capital Tripoli, according to the Libya, which is wealthy in oil, has been in upheaval since long-time tyrant Moammar Gadhafi was deposed and murdered in 2011 by a NATO-backed rebellion. In recent years, the North African country has become a major transit route for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East in search of a better life in Europe.
Traffickers have taken advantage of the confusion, packing desperate families into ill-equipped rubber or wooden boats that halt and sink along the dangerous Central Mediterranean route. Those rescued or intercepted trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe and returned to Libya by the Libyan Coast Guard, according to Guterres, are still being held indefinitely. According to him, the Coast Guard had intercepted 30,990 migrants and refugees as of December 14, nearly three times the entire number of individuals returned in 2020. (12,000 people). According to him, more than 1,300 people have died or gone missing while making the voyage.
Following significant security operations by Libyan authorities in October, Guterres expressed grave concern for individuals who were unfairly jailed and those who remain homeless. According to him, the operations targeted around 5,150 migrants and refugees, including at least 1,000 women and children, and resulted in families being split up and children being abducted.
Hundreds of nationals from Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan have been expelled from Libya’s eastern and southern borders without due process, according to Guterres.
According to the secretary-general, the expulsions violated the restriction on collective deportation and the return of people without their agreement, putting many asylum seekers and migrants in dangerous situations.