According to an Associated Press report, a group of teenage migrant girls in a Libyan government-controlled prison have accused the guards of an EU-funded facility of sexual harassment.
An unidentified 17-year-old Somali girl told the AP that she was raped by a guard at the Shara al-Awwiya Center in Tripoli in April. More girls from the center have made similar allegations, and some have shared their experiences with the AP.
Libyan security forces rescued the teenager in February, more than two years after he was captured by traffickers who sexually assaulted him. Traffickers spot migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe, extorting money, torturing and attacking them.
But the 17-year-old said she had been sexually assaulted only by the guards of the now government-run center, where most migrants or refugees are being held.
He չորս Four other Somali teenagers who have been subjected to similar abuses are seeking release from the Shara al-Aww air base.
It is one of a network of centers run by Libya’s Office for Combating Illegal Immigration or DCIM, which is supported by the European Union in its campaign to make Libya a stronghold across the Middle East, mainly for African migrants.
“Although this is not my first time being sexually assaulted, it’s even more painful because they were the people who had to protect us,” the 17-year-old told the Associated Press on a smuggled cell phone.
“You have to offer something to go to the bathroom, call the family or avoid being beaten,” he said. “It seems that we are being held by traffickers.”
The Associated Press did not identify the victims of sexual harassment, and the young woman also asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.
Smugglers and traffickers
In Libya, smugglers and traffickers, many of them members of armed groups, have long been seen as cruel to migrants. But human rights groups, including UN agencies, say abuses are taking place in official DCIM-run institutions.
“Sexual violence and exploitation are rampant in several prisons in the country (for migrants),” said Tariq Lamlum, a Libyan activist with the human rights group Belaady.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also reported hundreds of cases of women being raped while in DCIM detention or trafficked prisons, some of which were even infiltrated by guards and given birth during detention.
The juvenile group is the only migrants housed in Shara al-Zawiya, an institution where migrants usually stay for only short periods of time. Human rights groups say they have been trying to secure their release for weeks.
After escaping trafficking in February, the 17-year-old was brought to Shara al-Awwiya with eight other young female migrants. The other four were later released under unknown circumstances.
One night in April, around midnight, he said he was asking the guard to let him go to the bathroom. When he finished, the guard attacked him and forcibly caught him, he remembered.
“I was frozen, I did not know what to do,” he told the AP. The guard attacked him while he was crying, fighting and asking him to come down.
“I was lucky he did it fast.”
The guard then ordered his clothes to be cleaned, he recalled, shedding tears.
Terrified, he returned to his cell and told what had happened to one of the other girls. He soon learned that he was not the only victim. He said all girls between the ages of 16 and 18 had been similarly or worse assaulted by guards.
A 16-year-old boy in the same cell told the AP that he was sexually assaulted a few days after arriving at the center. When he asked the guard to call his family, he called her and left her cell to call his mother. One day, when he turned off the phone, he stood behind her and grabbed her.
He removed his hands and began to cry. He said the guard stopped only after realizing that other staff members were at the center.
“They do it every day,” he said. “If you resist, you will be beaten or deprived of everything.”
The Libyan government has not responded to requests for comment from the AP.
At least two of the sources were assassinated in late May after alleged beatings and attempted rape, according to the local human rights group Libyan Crime Watch, a UN agency.
One of them, 15 years old, was taken to hospital on May 28 and received treatment by Doctors Without Borders (Doctors Without Borders or Doctors Without Borders) or Doctors Without Borders.
MSF Libya spokeswoman Maya Abu Atan confirmed that the group had treated the two at its clinic.
The IMF teams “were in favor of releasing them, lobbying various defense interlocutors, but those attempts were unsuccessful,” he said.
Persistent human rights violations
UNHCR says it is working with the Libyan authorities to rescue five young women detained on Shara al-Aww and evacuate them from Libya.
The youth case in Shara al-Aww also raises questions about the EU’s role in the cycle of violence in Libya for deportees and asylum seekers.
The EU is training, equipping and supporting Libya’s coast guard to eavesdrop on people trying to cross Europe through the Central Mediterranean.
It is known that at least 677 people have either died or are missing this year by crossing this road with unnoticed ships.
Nearly 13,000 men, women and children, a record number, were captured by Libyan coastguards and returned to Libyan shores from the beginning of the year until June 12. Most of them are located in DCIM-run centers.
In 29 DCIM-led centers around the country, human rights groups reported a lack of basic hygiene, health care, food, water, and beatings and torture. DCIM receives support, supplies, and training, including on human rights, through the $ 5.1 billion EU Trust Fund for Africa.
Libya applauds West’s ceasefire last year, appointing an interim government earlier this year, leading to visits by European leaders and the reopening of some embassies. Despite seemingly growing political stability, activists and human rights groups say their entry into prisons is more restricted to migrants.
“The Ummah is silent, the ceasefire is in place … but human rights abuses continue unabated,” said Sookie Nagra, a spokeswoman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Libya. al-aw avia.
Even when cases are documented և the alleged perpetrators are arrested, they are often released for fear of retaliation for lack of witnesses ready to testify. For example, Abdel-Rahman Milad, who was under UN sanctions and was arrested last year on charges of human trafficking and fuel smuggling, walked free without trial in April.