(Brussels) – The European Union and its member states should ensure that any migration cooperation with Libya and other North African countries puts the lives, rights, and dignity of migrants front and center, Human Rights Watch said today.
EU leaders will meet in Malta on February 3, 2017, in talks about further efforts to stop boat migration in the central Mediterranean. They will discuss increased funding and training for the United Nations-backed Libyan Government of National Accord – one of three competing authorities in the country – to enhance border surveillance and control both on the coast and on Libya’s southern borders. Migration cooperation measures with Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt, focusing on readmission, border control, and prevention of new migration routes, will also be on the table in Malta.
“Whether cast in cold political terms or as a compassionate effort to save lives, EU efforts to stop the boats from Libya boil down to outsourcing responsibility to one party in a country riven by conflict and where migrants face horrific abuse,” said Judith Sunderland, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “What the EU wants to call a ‘line of protection’ could in reality be an ever-deeper line of cruelty in the sand and at sea.”