Geneva – Libyan security forces violently dispersed a sit-in of migrants and asylum seekers in front of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the capital, Tripoli, arrested and inhumanly assaulted hundreds of them, and burned the sit-in tents, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said Monday in a statement.
At about 2 a.m. Monday, large security forces attacked a major sit-in of about 1,000 migrants and asylum seekers that began more than 100 days ago in front of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Tripoli.
The security forces attacked the protesters' tents and severely beat those inside, including a large number of women and children. Dozens were injured, at least one with live bullets, before the forces set the tents on fire to end the sit-in.
Eyewitnesses told Euro-Med Monitor that the security forces arrested hundreds of protesters and transported many others by bus to Ain Zara prison, which is notorious for extremely poor humanitarian conditions.
Anas Aljerjawi, Euro-Med Monitor’s Chief Operating Officer, said, “Not only do the Libyan authorities not seem to consider the criticism they are facing over their illegal dealings with migrants and asylum seekers, but they also insist on escalating their violent campaigns against them without the slightest respect for their rights guaranteed in relevant international covenants and laws.”
“The Libyan authorities’ behavior in dealing with migrants and asylum seekers requires a clear position from their partners in the European Union and the United Nations to push them to respect the rights of migrants and asylum seekers in pushbacks and in prisons and detention centers that witness widespread violations.”
In December 2021, Euro-Med Monitor published a detailed report documenting the Libyan authorities’ horrific violations against migrants and asylum seekers, including arbitrary detention, inhumane treatment, and widespread financial extortion inside prisons and detention centers in Libya.
A Libyan government official told Euro-Med Monitor that the number of detained migrants and asylum seekers in prisons and migrant detention centers in Libya is around 13,000. They come from various, mostly African countries, such as Ethiopia, Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Sudan, Egypt, and the Arab Maghreb countries. Most of them do not wish to settle in Libya, but rather to move from the Libyan coasts to Europe through sea smuggling operations.