UN-commissioned investigators have painted a grim picture for migrants in Libya, saying they wanted to verify the presence of mass graves at a human trafficking center in the country’s northwest.
Cairo – UN-commissioned investigators painted a grim picture for migrants in Libya on Wednesday, saying they wanted to verify the presence of mass graves at a human trafficking center in the country’s northwest.
Chief Investigator Mohammed Aujjar said the group had documented “continuing human rights abuses” against migrants in government-run detention centers and trafficking centers.
Libya has emerged in recent years as a popular, if not extremely dangerous, path to Europe for Assad fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East. The North African country has been in turmoil since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and assassinated longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
In the northwestern city of Bani Walid, investigators set up by the UN’s top human rights body found that “immigrants were captured, killed, tortured and raped.”
They reported that at least eight immigrants talked about mass graves in the city, which investigators said needed to be verified.
Auzzaar told the Human Rights Council on Wednesday that they were examining the existence of secret detention facilities, including some controlled by armed militias.
Investigators said in an October report that they had evidence of possible crimes against humanity and war crimes in Libya. They say many of the alleged crimes were committed against civilians and immigrants detained in the country while trying to reach Europe.
Millions of migrants hoping to reach Europe have made their way through Libya in recent years, where a lucrative trafficking and smuggling business has flourished.
The country exists without a functioning government and has been divided for several years between rival administrations in the east and west, backed by each armed group and foreign government.
Human traffickers have benefited from the chaos in the oil-rich country, smuggling migrants across the country’s long border with six countries. They desperately fill the unprepared rubber boats of the migrants, then embark on perilous voyages across the Mediterranean.
According to rights groups, many of those detained and sent back to Libya – including women and children – have been held in government-run detention centers where they have been subjected to torture, rape and extortion.