Cairo ( Associated Press) — One of Libya’s rival governments has said a report alleging abuse by an international human rights group contained false allegations. Earlier this month, London-based watchdog Amnesty International released reports documenting abuses against migrants by a state-funded security agency in western Libya.
Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dabiba’s Tripoli-based government said late Thursday that Amnesty’s report “lacked professionalism and credibility.”
“We consider this an expression of systematic and long-held prejudice against the interests of the Libyan state,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said.
The report, released on May 4, accused the state-funded Sustainability Support Authority (SSA) of committing a long list of abuses – including unlawful killings, arbitrary detention, detention of migrants and refugees, torture, forced labor and sexual harassment. crimes are involved.
The SSA is led by Abdel-Ghani al-Kikli, a militia leader who controls a detention center in Tripoli’s Abu Salim neighborhood. Although he has previously been implicated in war crimes by global rights groups, Dabibah appointed him as SSA chief and granted him broad arrest powers last year.
The report said a delegation from Amnesty visited Libya in February and spoke to the victims, their families and activists. The report said that representatives of the Tripoli-based Interior Ministry confirmed to Amnesty that the SSA operates its Down Detention Center without any ministerial oversight and that it reports directly to Dabiba.
Diana Altahavi, deputy regional director for Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said: “Legalizing abusive militia leaders and placing them on state payrolls without question only empowers them to utterly crush the rights of more people.” ”
However, the Libyan government said that the Amnesty delegation did not visit any security agencies and did not inquire about any violations during their visit.
Migrants regularly try to cross the Mediterranean from Libya in a desperate attempt to reach European shores. The country has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.
Human traffickers have benefited from the chaos in Libya in recent years, with six countries smuggling migrants across the oil-rich country’s long borders. The migrants are then usually packed in non-equipped rubber boats and set off on risky sea voyages.
According to the International Organization for Migration, at least 476 migrants died on the central Mediterranean route between January 1 and April 11. The European Union has partnered with Libyan coast guards to deter migrants, who usually return to Libyan shores and are held in abuse-ridden detention centres.
Eltahawy said the abuses recorded in this month’s report are “yet another sobering reminder that refugees and migrants barred at sea should never be returned to Libya.”