EU funding is facilitating the commission of abuses against migrants in Libya who are being systematically tortured and forced into sexual slavery.
The warning came out of a probe by the United Nations which said that the European Union had given support to organisations that have “aided and abetted the commission of the crimes.”
The investigation found that there were grounds to believe that migrants have been targeted by state security forces and armed militia groups in detention centres under the control of Libya’s Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration (DCMI) and Libya’s coast guard.
“These entities receive technical, logistic and monetary support from the European Union and its member states for the interception and return of migrants,” said the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya’s chairman, Mohamed Auajjar.
In 2016 the EU began assisting the Libyan coast guard by providing speedboats and training and establishing a large sea area where the Libyan Coast Guard is responsible for search and rescues, according to Amnesty International. This has allowed the coast guard to return migrants and refugees to Libya unlawfully where they are often detained, even though they face serious abuse.
As well as torture, there is reasonable grounds to believe that sexual slavery of women in and around these detention centres is also being committed, concludes the UN investigation, which is a crime against humanity.
Arbitrary detention, murder, torture, rape, extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearance are also being committed.
In 2021 Amnesty International released a report which found that guards at a detention centre in Tripoli raped detainees in exchange for essentials like clean water.
The rights watchdog called on European countries to suspend border control cooperation with Libya.
Last weekend, Libya’s coast guard fired warning shots over a humanitarian vessel as it tried to rescue migrants off the coast of Libya.
The charities SOS Mediterranee and Sea-Watch accused Libya’s coast guard of deliberately firing the shots, endangering the crew, and then returning roughly 80 migrants to Libya.
Amnesty found that Libyan coast guards have deliberately damaged boats causing them to capsize so that refugees and migrants have drowned.