Humanitarian Coordinator Calls for Independent Investigation into Migrant Deaths in Detention Centre

6 Apr 2016

Humanitarian Coordinator Calls for Independent Investigation into Migrant Deaths in Detention Centre

UNSMIL’s Deputy Special Representative for the Secretary-General/Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator Mr. Ali Al-Za’tari expresses his deep regret over the loss of life of four migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa in the Al-Nasr detention centre in al-Zawiya, and calls for independent, impartial and full investigations into their deaths. The DSRSG also wishes a speedy recovery to the injured guard and wounded migrants.

According to information available to UNSMIL, four detainees sustained fatal gunshot wounds and 20 more were injured during and in the aftermath of an apparent escape attempt from the Al-Nasr detention facility in al-Zawiya for “illegal migrants” on 1 April. A guard was also injured. It is reported that conditions in the detention centre are inhumane, with severe overcrowding, shortages of food and other basic necessities, and no access to medical care.

The al-Zaiwiya prosecution opened an investigation into the incident, and questioned a number of witnesses. Welcoming the investigation, Mr. Al-Za’tari said: “ This incident yet again highlights the deplorable conditions endured by migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees in Libya; many of them fleeing persecution, abuses or poverty in their own countries.” He added: “ We hope that the Government of National Accord will urgently address the dire humanitarian situation of particularly vulnerable groups in Libya including migrants. In the meantime, all those with effective authority of the ground should protect migrants from abuse and exploitation and put an end to their prolonged detention in horrid conditions.”

Following interception or rescue at sea, house raids or identity checks, thousands of migrants and refugees are arrested and detained in Libya for migration-related offences. They face torture and other ill-treatment in centres run by the Department of Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM) and by armed groups. Many report beatings, suspension and forced labour. The al-Nasr detention centre has nominally come under the oversight of the DCIM in mid-March. It is estimated that there are about 1,200 detainees at the centre, mainly Sub-Saharan Africans intercepted or rescued at sea by the Libyan coastguard. According to reports, there are eight women and two children at the centre.