“European Union efforts to stem migration from Libya risk condemning migrants and asylum seekers to violent abuse at the hands of government officials, militias, and criminal groups in Libya, Human Rights Watch said today. Newly documented abuses include torture, rape, and killings in squalid detention centers where migrants, including people intercepted at sea by the Libyan Coast Guards, are detained.”

In June, Human Rights Watch interviewed 47 people in Sicily, 23 women and 24 men, who had recently travelled from Libya to Italy on smugglers’ boats.

The report describes abuse in official detention centres including sexual violence, killings and beatings and abuses by the Coast Guards and abuses by smugglers, militias and gangs. These take place within the context of chaos in Libya.

“Given the extent of the problem and the lack of a functioning Libyan government, the crisis for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Libya has no simple solution. A multi-pronged effort is required by Libyan authorities and international actors, especially the EU and its member states, that prioritizes respect for rights over closure of borders and feeds into the larger goal of stabilizing Libya and building rights-respecting institutions.”

With recommendations to the EU and Member states, NATO and the Libyan authorities.