Refugees and migrants crossing through Libya face human rights abuses including torture and rape, Amnesty International (AI) reported May 10. The report asserts that foreign nationals in Libya are subject to alarming rates of rape, torture and abduction, causing many to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea trying to escape. AI also noted that a recent upsurge in xenophobia has caused some of the abuses against religious minorities, especially Christians, who are subject to exploitation, abuse and unlawful killings by armed groups enforcing a harsh version of Islamic law. To ameliorate the situation, AI called for the re-opening of neighboring borders and challenged the EU to investigate the human rights abuses, in addition to the search and rescue operations to which they have already committed themselves.
From Jurist, May 12. Used with permission.
Note: After a boat carrying up to 700 migrants capsized off Lampedusa last month, with most assumed dead, the UNHCR said that at least another 900 migrants had already lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean so far this year. AI is now opposing a proposal from EU leaders to seek UN approval for military action to sink smugglers' boats on the Libyan coast. (Al Jazeera, May 11; BBC News, April 19)