Libya: undocumented foreign nationals face abuse

Undocumented foreign nationals in Libya are at risk of exploitation, arbitrary and indefinite detention, as well as beatings, sometimes amounting to torture, Amnesty International (AI) reported Nov. 13. The report urged Libyan authorities to confront issues of xenophobia and racism, which may in part be inspired by the prevalent belief that some foreigners were “mercenaries” who had supported the ousted regime. The report is based on visits with 2,700 foreign nationals in detention centers throughout Libya between May and September of this year, including pregnant women, and unaccompanied minors held over migration offenses. According to AI, many detainees displayed bruises said to be linked to the abuse, such as being beaten with metal wires, water pipes and rubber hoses. Among other hardships, the report indicated women at the centers are vulnerable to sexual violence from male guards. According to Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at AI, despite the overthrow of Moammar Qaddafi in 2011, undocumented foreign nationals currently face worse situations than before.

“It is shameful that Qaddafi-era abuses against foreigners, especially those from Sub-Saharan Africa, have not only continued but worsened. The Libyan authorities must acknowledge the extent of the abuse by militias and put in place measures to protect all foreign nationals from violence and abuse, regardless of their origin or immigration status,” said Sahraoui.

From Jurst, Nov. 13. Used with permission.