An immigrant crying in a migrant centre in Tripoli | Photo: Zuhair Abusrewil
An immigrant crying in a migrant centre in Tripoli | Photo: Zuhair Abusrewil

A report by the organization Doctors for Human Rights has found that 85% of migrants and refugees who reached Italy from Libya had been subjected to torture in the African country.

Doctors for Human Rights (MEDU) released a report titled "The Torture Factory" on Tuesday. The organization gathered accounts from more than 3,000 migrants and refugees who had reached Italy from Libya between 2014 and 2020 .

They found that 85% of those migrants and refugees had been subjected to "torture, violence, and inhumane and degrading treatment" in Libya.

Two-thirds had reportedly been detained. Almost 50% had been kidnapped or nearly died. Nine out of ten said they had watched someone die, be killed, or tortured.

"A high number of those interviewed said they were subjected to forced labor or conditions of slavery for months or years," according to the reports.

Migrant exploitation in Libya

The number of migrants arriving in Italy from Libya by crossing the Mediterranean Sea has decreased significantly in recent years. From 2014 to 2017, about 504,000 people disembarked in Italy, while in the three years after, 153,000 arrived, according to MEDU. That's a drop of about 70%.

"Survivors' accounts describe [Libya as] a country that has turned into a sort of large system of exploitation of migrants and refugees [that has become] one of the main sources of income; a country where crimes against humanity are committed in a systematic way and on a large scale like few others in the contemporary age," MEDU concludes in the report.

An appeal to Italy and the EU

MEDU called on Italy and the EU to stop cooperating with Libyan authorities and to resettle the migrants and refugees from Libya.

The organization said that it is calling on the Italian government to suspend and revise the Italy-Libya accord. "MEDU is also asking that the European Union and the international community to work for the immediate closure of all official detention centers and the evacuation, under the auspices of the United Nations, of migrants and refugees detained there to safe countries," their report said. "We are also directing an appeal to Italy, the European Union, and the international community to adopt all possible initiatives aimed at freeing the tens of thousands of migrants and refugees either kidnapped or being held in informal detention places."

 

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