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Libya

    December 07, 2018

    Responding to news from MSF and SOS Mediterranée that the Aquarius search and rescue vessel has been forced to end operations, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said:

    “Today, we received some very sad news. Médecins Sans Frontières and its partner SOS Méditerranée have been forced to terminate operations by the search and rescue ship, Aquarius.

    “Over the last two years the Aquarius and her crew have rescued nearly 30,000 people in the Mediterranean. Yet, more than 2,100 people have drowned this year. The vast majority were fleeing violence, torture and arbitrary detention in Libya.

    “During this time, not only have European governments failed to provide search and rescue capacity, they have instead supported the Libyan coastguard to return people to Libya, and actively obstructed life-saving activities like Aquarius was carrying out.

    “In doing this, European leaders have shown where their true priorities lie: the closure of the central Mediterranean route for refugees and migrants, even at the cost of a soaring death toll at sea.

    November 16, 2018

    Libyan, European and Panamanian authorities must ensure that at least 79 refugees and migrants who are on board a merchant vessel at the port of Misratah are not forced to disembark to be taken to a Libyan detention centre where they could face torture and other abuse, said Amnesty International today.

    The refugees and migrants, including a number of children, were found as they attempted to reach Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. Amnesty International understands that Italian and Maltese maritime authorities were involved in the operation, carried out by the merchant ship Nivin. Flying a Panamanian flag, the Nivin picked the group up in the central Mediterranean on 8 November and returned them to Libya, in what appears to be a clear breach of international law, given that Libya cannot be considered a safe place to disembark.

    June 25, 2018

    The Libyan authorities must do more to protect women human rights defenders in the country and investigate the repeated violent attacks against them, Amnesty International said today, four years after the killing of renowned Libyan human rights lawyer and activist Salwa Bugaighis.

    Salwa Bugaighis was shot dead in her home in the eastern city of Benghazi on 25 June 2014 - her assassination triggering a downward spiral in  security for women human rights defenders that has persisted ever since.

    “Salwa Bugaighis’ assassination was a negative turning point for women in Libya who had actively sought to participate in public and political life following the 2011 uprising,” said Heba Morayef, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “The general security situation for Libyans deteriorated after 2014 but women were particularly hard-hit. The lack of accountability for the assassination exposed a climate of impunity for violence against women who speak out, causing some women to retreat from Libyan civil society and forcing others to flee the country.”

    June 11, 2018

    Amid reports of an escalating humanitarian crisis in the besieged Libyan city of Derna, Amnesty International is calling on the leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA), General Khalifa Haftar, and all parties involved in the fighting to urgently open humanitarian corridors to give impartial assistance and save the lives of civilians still trapped in the city as the army advances.

    Derna residents are bracing themselves for a bloody street battle as the LNA advances its control over the city. Residents say they fear trying to flee from the city because the LNA is known to profile, arbitrarily detain and disappear people they perceive as opponents, especially young men.

    “We are receiving horrifying reports from Derna, where a prolonged siege and heavy fighting have left the city on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.  Blockade tactics are being used to cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary men, women and children, who are now surrounded, with dwindling food, water and medical supplies, and no way out of this desperate situation,” said Heba Morayef, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    May 15, 2018

    A surge in migrants and refugees intercepted at sea by the Libyan authorities has seen at least 2,600 people transferred, in the past two months alone, to squalid detention centres where they face torture and extortion, Amnesty International said today.

    The global human rights organisation accuses European governments of complicity in these abuses by actively supporting the Libyan authorities in stopping sea crossings and sending people back to detention centres in Libya.

    “The EU is turning a blind eye to the suffering caused by its callous immigration policies that outsource border control to Libya,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

    “When European leaders spare no effort to ensure the Libyan Coast Guard intercepts as many people as possible, they are sending those migrants and refugees straight back to Libya’s detention centres which are notorious for abuse and torture. No one should be sending anyone back to Libya.”

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    January 25, 2018

    Responding to reports that yesterday Mahmoud al-Werfalli, former Field Commander of the Special Forces Brigade (Al-Saiqa) affiliated to the Libyan National Army (LNA) and a war crimes suspect wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), extrajudicially executed 10 people in Benghazi, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director, Heba Morayef, said:

    “The video currently circulating on social media appears to be a demonstration of the horrifying consequences of the rampant impunity that exists in Libya. As long as indicted war crimes suspects feel they can carry on committing grave violations without facing justice, the prospects for establishing rule of law in Libya will remain grim.”

    “The onus is now on the General Commander of the Libyan National Army, Khalifa Hafter and the Libyan authorities to ensure that Mahmoud al-Werfalli is handed to the ICC, making it clear that those who commit war crimes and other serious violations will be brought to justice.”

    Background

    December 13, 2017

    by Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

    Last month CNN news footage caught on film what authorities in Libya and in Europe do not want you to see: migrants being bought and sold.

    A damning new Amnesty International report released this week paints a shocking picture of how this terrible degradation of human life has come to happen. “Libya’s Dark Web of Collusion” documents the systematic human rights abuse of 20,000 refugees and migrants from all over Africa and elsewhere, who are being held in detention Libya.

    Tortured. Deprived of food. Raped. Drowned at sea. Bought and sold.  

    December 12, 2017

    European governments are knowingly complicit in the torture and abuse of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants detained by Libyan immigration authorities in appalling conditions in Libya, said Amnesty International in a report published today, in the wake of global outrage over the sale of migrants in Libya.

    ‘Libya’s dark web of collusion’ details how 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.

    “Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants trapped in Libya are at the mercy of Libyan authorities, militias, armed groups and smugglers often working seamlessly together for financial gain. Tens of thousands are kept indefinitely in overcrowded detention centres where they are subjected to systematic abuse,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

    August 22, 2017

    Six years since the Tawargha people were displaced from their hometown by Misratah militia forces in August 2011, the community of about 40,000 are still unable to return safely to their homes, Amnesty International said today.

    Two months ago, in June 2017, a political agreement was signed paving the way for their return. However, the terms of the deal not been implemented and some of those who have attempted to make the journey home since have faced threats and intimidation. The agreement also fails to ensure access to justice and reparations for the horrendous abuses Tawarghas have endured in recent years.

    “The failure to hold anyone accountable for the catalogue of abuses the Tawargha have suffered since they were displaced demonstrates the catastrophic consequences of years of lawlessness in Libya, where militias have committed gross human rights abuses with complete impunity,” said Heba Morayef.

    “Without clear political will to enforce the agreement to ensure the Tawargha’s safe return home, the public commitments made in June will be little more than an empty gesture.”

    August 16, 2017
      Responding to news that the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant today for the arrest of Mahmoud el-Wefelli, who is accused of war crimes for actions committed while he was Field Commander of the Special Forces Brigade (Al-Saiqa) affiliated to the Libyan National Army (LNA), Amnesty International’s North Africa Research Director Heba Morayef said:   “Today’s decision by the ICC is a significant step towards ending the rampant impunity for war crimes in Libya. Mahmoud al-Werfelli led an army unit that is accused of atrocities, including the extrajudicial executions of unarmed and defenseless captives.   “The Libyan authorities must urgently comply with this arrest warrant and hand Mahmoud al-Werfelli over to the ICC to face his accusers in a fair trial. This warrant sends a clear message that those who commit or order horrendous crimes are not above the law and will not go unpunished.  
    July 27, 2017

    Photo Credit: Amnesty International

     

    University professor Dr Salem Mohamed Beitelmal was released on 6 June. He had been abducted by local militias on the outskirts of Tripoli since 20 April. He has now returned home and joined his family.

    May 08, 2017

    The continuing rise in abductions at the hands of militias highlights how the absence of the rule of law in Libya is fuelling chaos and lawlessness and leaving civilians in the country living in fear, said Amnesty International today. Kidnappings of civilians by militias, often for ransom, have risen sharply since 2014, particularly in the west of the country, where hundreds have gone missing and abductions have become a feature of daily life.

    Among the latest victims to go missing is Tripoli University professor Dr. Salem Mohamed Beitelmal, who was abducted over two weeks ago not far from his home in the area of Siyyad on the outskirts of Tripoli. His whereabouts remain unknown and his family have had no contact with him since his abduction.

    February 02, 2017

    Closing the EU’s southern sea borders would put thousands of refugees and migrants setting sail from Libya at risk of detention and appalling human rights abuses, Amnesty International warned as European leaders meet in Malta tomorrow to secure an EU-Libya migration plan.  The plan was first proposed late last month by the European Commission to ‘manage migration’ on the Central Mediterranean route.

    The EU naval operations Sophia and Triton would in practice delegate search and rescue of refugees and migrants by sharing information about the location of the migrant and refugee boats to the Libyan Coast Guard, facilitating their interception and return to Libya.

    September 30, 2016

    Fears are growing for hundreds of civilians who are trapped in a Benghazi neighbourhood which faces intensified fighting after several months under military blockade, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization has gathered testimony from some of the 130 Libyan families and hundreds of foreign nationals who have been trapped for months in the residential district of Ganfouda, in south-west Benghazi. All entry roads are blocked by the fighting or Libyan National Army forces, and food, water and electricity supplies have been cut off.

    “Time is running out for civilians in Ganfouda, who are being left to die trapped by the fighting. While bombs and shells continue to rain down on them, civilians are struggling to survive on rotten food and dirty water. And the sick and wounded must make due with dwindling supplies of expired medicines,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

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