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UN report highlights abuses by Libyan Coastguard during search and rescue operations
12.9.17
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"As at 19 July 2017, IOM estimates that 11,122 persons have been intercepted and rescued by the Libyan Coastguard, coastal security and fishermen in 2017, while 348 human remains were retrieved along Libyan shores. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern about abuses and violations against such persons by the Libyan Coastguard during search and rescue operations, which, in some instances, further endanger the lives of people in distress at sea. Intercepted or rescued migrants are rarely provided with life jackets.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has documented the use of firearms, physical violence and threatening language by Coastguard officials during search and rescue operations, within and beyond the territorial sea of Libya, that induce panic among people in unseaworthy vessels seeking assistance. Other recorded behaviour includes jumping on board migrant vessels without warning, and colliding with vessels in distress. Such acts risk capsizing already unseaworthy boats and cause panic among people in distress, some of whom jump into the water without life jackets. According to UNSMIL and OHCHR, immediately following rescues or interceptions at sea, Coastguard officials routinely fail to identify and meet the specialized needs of migrants and asylum seekers in vulnerable situations, including pregnant women, unaccompanied minors, and those with disabilities or pre-existing medical conditions." [emphasis added]

Summary: Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council resolution 2312 (2016) (S/2017/761) [EN/AR] (Reliefweb, link):

See: Full text of UN report (pdf)

Also: EU brushes off UN criticism of Libya policy (euobserver, link):

"The European Commission says it is working to help and protect migrants in Libya amid sharp criticism from the United Nations.

An EU commission spokesperson on Monday (11 September) told reporters in Brussels that its work with the UN and its affiliated agencies on the ground in Libya is part of a greater effort to protect migrants and provide them with access to basic medial care....

The commission's defence of the EU's policy in Libya on Monday follows a scathing rebuke from the UN's high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. In a statement released on Friday (8 September), Al Hussein said the EU's approach of apprehending migrants inside territorial waters to have them returned to Libya is a clear breach of the international law prohibition of 'non-refoulement'. "Like the militias onshore, coastguards also sometimes beat, rob and even shoot the migrants they intercept," he said....

"Similar comments were issued by the president of Doctors without Borders who last week accused the EU of condoning torture, given the widespread rape, beatings, and abuse that people endure at the hands of detention centre guards."

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