U.N.-backed human rights experts said Monday there is evidence that crimes against humanity have been committed against Libyans and migrants in Libya, including women being forced into sexual slavery.
The investigators commissioned by the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council also faulted the European Union for sending support to Libyan forces that they say contributed to crimes against migrants and Libyans.
The findings come in an extensive new report, based on interviews with hundreds of people, including migrants and witnesses, that wraps up a fact-finding mission created nearly three years ago to investigate rights violations and abuses in the North African country.
Oil-rich but largely lawless Libya has in recent years emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants seeking a better quality of life in Europe, and activists have long decried horrible conditions faced by migrants.
During the probe into alleged human trafficking and smuggling, the U.N.-backed investigators found “there are reasonable grounds to believe that migrants across Libya are victims of crimes against humanity and that acts of murder, enforced disappearance, torture, enslavement, sexual violence, rape and other inhumane acts are committed in connection with their arbitrary detention,” the report said.
It specifically cited the Libyan coast guard, which has been supported by the European bloc over the years.
“The support given by the EU to the Libyan coast guard in terms of pull-backs, pushbacks, (and) interceptions led to violations of certain human rights," said investigator Chaloka Beyani. "You can’t push back people to areas that are unsafe, and the Libyan waters are unsafe for the embarkation of migrants.”
He said the European bloc and its member states weren't found to be responsible war crimes, but "the support given has aided and abetted the commission of the crimes.”
Libya was plunged into turmoil after a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed, and left the country divided between rival governments on the east and west.