Libyan Guards Accused of Sexually Assaulting Minor Migrants

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A Somali migrant teenager told the AFP that she was sexually assaulted by Libyan guards at the government-run centre in the Libyan capital Tripoli.

She and four other Somali teenagers who underwent similar abuses are pleading to be released from the Shara al-Zawiya detention centre. It is one of a network of centres run by Libya’s Department for Combating Illegal Immigration (DCIM), which is supported by the European Union (EU).

advertisementsSmugglers and traffickers in Libya have long been notorious for brutalizing migrants. But rights groups and United Nations (UN) agencies say abuse also takes place in the official DCIM-run facilities.

“Sexual violence and exploitation are rife in several detention centers (for migrants) across the country,” Tarik Lamloum, a Libyan activist working with the Belaady Organization for Human Rights, told the AFP.

The UN refugee agency documented hundreds of cases of women raped while in either DCIM detention or traffickers’ prisons, with some even being impregnated by guards and giving birth during detention, said Vincent Cochetel, the agency’s special envoy for the Central Mediterranean.

At least two of the girls attempted to kill themselves in late May following alleged beatings and attempted rapes, according to local rights group Libyan Crime Watch and UN agencies.

The case of the teens in Shara al-Zawiya also renews questions about the EU’s role in the cycle of violence trapping migrants and asylum seekers in Libya. The EU trains, equips and supports the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept people trying to cross the Central Mediterranean to Europe. At least 677 people are known to have either died or gone missing taking this route on unseaworthy boats so far this year.

Nearly 13,000 men, women and children have been intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard and returned to Libyan shores from the start of the year up to June 12th, a record number. Most are then placed in DCIM-run centres.

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