European governments are knowingly complicit in the torture and abuse of refugees and migrants in Libya, Amnesty International has alleged.
In an effort to stem migration, the EU is actively supporting a “system of abuse and exploitation” on Libyan shores, the group said in a report.
EU funds are going to authorities working with militias and people smugglers, the report says.
The EU said its work to help migrants made things better, not worse.
It has provided ships, training and funding to the Libyan coastguard.
Libya is the main thoroughfare for migrants trying to reach Europe. Arrivals in Italy – the main destination for boat crossings – fell sharply following the provision of EU funds to the Libyan coastguard.
Amnesty says the coastguard is working with criminal gangs and people smugglers who are guilty of a range of abuses, with the knowledge of EU officials.
It alleges that the drive to stem migration has resulted in “mass, arbitrary and indefinite detention” of refugees and migrants.
Refugees and migrants intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard are sent to detention centres run by Libya’s general directorate for combating illegal migration (DCIM).
Amnesty said about 20,000 people were currently detained at these centres, and it had testimony showing detainees were subject to “torture, forced labour, extortion, and unlawful killings” at the hands of authorities, traffickers, and militias.