Jordanian Prince criticises Italy's human rights record

Zeid Raad Al Hussein

ROME - Italy has been harshly condemned by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince of Jordon Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein for its conniving with militias in Libya to prevent migrants leaving the north African country. "The European Union's policy of assisting the Libyan coast guard in intercepting and rejecting migrants in the Mediterranean is inhumane," said the Prince. Italy is largely involved in this situation.

 The prince expressed the implicit responsibility of the EU countries that intercept migrant vessels before returning them to Libya. “The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity … what was an already dire situation has now turned catastrophic.”

 Despite human rights organisations publicising the condemnation of migrants to indefinite detention, torture, rape, forced labour, exploitation, and extortion all without access to legal aid in order to challenge the legality of their detention. In early November, according to Libya’s Department of Combating Illegal Migration,19,900 people were being held in facilities under its control.

 “The increasing interventions of the EU and its member states have done nothing so far to reduce the level of abuses suffered by migrants,” said Zied. “Our monitoring, in fact, shows a fast deterioration in their situation in Libya.”

 “There is no access to the most basic necessities, and people are stripped of their human dignity,” said the prince, a statement that is backed up by the testimony of one migrant held in one of these facilities:  “We are like a box of matches, we don’t sleep, we have diseases, we lack food, we didn’t shower for months. We will all die if not saved from this place, this is Calvary, it is excessively difficult to survive the smell of faeces and urine, many are [lying] unconscious on the floor.”

 Detailed accounts of rapes at the hands of smugglers and guards, as one woman said; “armed men came in and chose six women, including me, and took us out one by one. When I first refused, I was slapped and a gun was pointed at my head. Four men raped me outside. I was in early stages of pregnancy, I bled profusely, and I think I lost the baby. I haven’t seen a doctor yet.”

 The UN is calling for migrants not to be detained and for all centres to be opened. The prince’s criticism of Italy turning the migrants back to their countries seems only reliant on the atrocities that local authorities impose on these disenfranchised people. While the prince has laid out proposals for reform in Libya, he did not address alternative practices for the Italians.