Amnesty International has urged the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), to provide greater transparency regarding its collaboration with Libya, in addressing illegal migration in the Mediterranean.
In a statement published on Tuesday, Amnesty International called on Frontex to “ensure transparency concerning any of its operations that could potentially lead to human rights violations against irregular migrants and refugees in Libya.”
According to Matthew de Bellis, a researcher specializing in refugee rights at Amnesty, Frontex “employs aircraft and drones to pinpoint the locations of migrants attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean. This information is then relayed to the Libyan Coast Guard.”
As a consequence, migrants and refugees are tracked by the Libyan Coast Guard and forcibly returned to Libya, where they face widespread arbitrary detention and torture.
De Bellis emphasised the necessity for Frontex to “be transparent about its role in any operations that may result in human rights violations against migrants and refugees. Without such transparency, any commitments made by the agency regarding the protection of human rights are symbolic, and unlikely to lead to the promised positive changes.”
Earlier, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported the interception and return of 271 migrants to Libya, during the week of 24-30 September 2023. This spotlights the ongoing complexity and peril of Mediterranean migration routes.
The migrants, embarking on treacherous journeys in an attempt to reach European shores, encountered intensified patrol operations, which subsequently led to their return to Libyan territories. This occurrence underscores the continual strife and despair experienced by migrants, often fleeing conflict, persecution, and economic hardship in their home countries.
The migratory movements through the Mediterranean have long been a point of international contention, with human rights organizations consistently voicing concerns over the safety and humane treatment of intercepted migrants. Libya, despite being a predominant point of departure, has been criticized for its detention practices and conditions, often described by activists and migrants alike as deplorable and inhumane.
These 271 individuals join thousands of others who have attempted the perilous sea journey, seeking refuge and a semblance of stability beyond their borders. Their interception and subsequent return throw a stark light on the global discourse surrounding migration, asylum, and human rights.
The European Union and its member states have been under scrutiny for their roles, and responses to the migration crisis. Critics argue that more needs to be done to safeguard migrants’ rights and lives, suggesting the establishment of safer and more lawful pathways to asylum and improving the conditions and prospects for migrants returned to transit countries like Libya.