Two United Nations human rights experts have expressed serious concern over a new European Commission policy on Mediterranean Sea rescues, warning that more people will drown.

“The EU’s proposed new action plan, including a code of conduct for organizations operating rescue boats, threatens life and breaches international standards by condemning people to face further human rights violations in Libya,” said the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales, and the Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer.

“Libya simply cannot be regarded as a safe place to disembark and the EU policy is in denial of this fact,” they said. “Migrants intercepted by the Libyan coast guard will face indefinite detention in dire and inhumane conditions, at risk of death, torture or other severe human rights violations, without any judicial review.”

Libyan detention centres were severely overcrowded with inadequate access to toilets, washing facilities, ventilation, food and clean water, they noted. Detainees also lacked access to a legal process or lawyers.

The human rights experts also highlighted that migrants in Libya risked labor exploitation and were vulnerable to other forms of contemporary slavery; while women were at risk of rape and other sexual violence.”

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