EU and Libya condemned over treatment of migrants

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African migrants caught trying to enter Libya from Niger - 1 January 2009
Image caption,
Many migrants cross into Libya over its long desert frontier on their way to Europe

Amnesty International has condemned Libya and the EU over co-operation to try to prevent African migrants crossing from North Africa to Europe.

The human rights group says Libya detains illegal migrants in inhuman conditions, subjecting them to torture and humiliation.

Yet, the organisation says the European Union is co-operating with the Libyan government in its work.

They have been working hard to stem the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe.

Under a recently signed deal, the EU is paying Libya 50 million euros ($67m; £42m) for its co-operation, and the numbers of migrants have been dramatically reduced.

Libya now patrols its shores with boats donated by Italy.

Even migrants found in small boats close to Malta are sometimes sent back to a very uncertain future in Libya.

Amnesty says that Europe is ignoring Libya's dire human rights record.

One migrant interviewed by the organisation said it was better to die at sea than be taken back to Libya.

According to a number of cases documented by Amnesty, illegal migrants in Libya face detention, torture, racial abuse and sometimes rape.

Amnesty is urging the European Union, Libya and Malta to take steps to respect the rights of these African migrants.