libyan coast guards take bribes to free detained illegal migrants
Last Updated : GMT 05:07:50
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Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicle
Last Updated : GMT 05:07:50
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicle

In return for 155 euro for the person

Libyan Coast Guards take bribes to free detained illegal migrants

Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicle

Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicleLibyan Coast Guards take bribes to free detained illegal migrants

Libyan Coast Guards
Tripoli - Fatima Al Saadawy

The UK-backed Libyan coastguard is running a racket in the Mediterranean Sea by turning its legitimate power to stop migrant crossings into a cash cow, according to victims’ accounts. Guards allegedly stop smuggler vessels offshore and detain those onboard, before taking bribes to later release them. Migrants say they are then able to attempt another crossing to Europe.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has collected numerous testimonies from migrants intercepted at sea who subsequently bribed their way out of Libyan detention centres. HRW says the accounts are tantamount to evidence EU funding could be exacerbating the refugee crisis it aims to fix.

Britain and other countries have been supporting the country’s coastguard with training and equipment despite heavily documented evidence of refugee abuse and even instances of violent clashes with aid vessels.

Stéphane, a 30-year-old man from Cameroon, told The Independent he was beaten and robbed by uniformed members of the force while attempting the treacherous boat crossing to Italy in June. This crossing had been organised by a Cameroonian smuggler.

“While they were beating us they demanded money, dollars, telephones – they took everything,” he said. “They claimed that if we gave them money, they would have taken us to Italy themselves.”

Stéphane and the other passengers were transferred to a prison near Sabratha, one of the biggest smuggling hubs in Libya, where he was kept for three weeks.

Migrants are supposed to be offered support to return to their countries of origin – but Stéphane was offered a different way out.

He said officials offered to free prisoners for €155 (£140) a head. With no money or possessions left after the first crossing, the bribe to release Stéphane and 56 other people was paid by the same Cameroonian smuggler who organised the initial crossing.

Stéphane was then taken to the same house he stayed in before his first crossing attempt, before boarding another smugglers’ dinghy and five days later being rescued and transferred to Sicily unchallenged.

Despite credible evidence of abuses, the Ministry of Defence has embarked on a third round of training which started in October 2016, taking on 60 Libyan coastguard members in total.

Two rounds of programmes including human rights education have been completed offshore and in recent days a classroom-based course on maritime law, navigation and boat-handling has started at a military base in Italy.

Europe has steadily been increasing its cooperation with Libya’s fragile Government of National Accord (GNA), following the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants in crossings which have killed more than 15,000 men, women and children over the past four years.

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libyan coast guards take bribes to free detained illegal migrants libyan coast guards take bribes to free detained illegal migrants

 



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