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Refugee crisis: the federal government continues to rely on Libya

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Status: 07/28/2022 05:01

Refugees drowned in the Mediterranean, deportations to Libyan torture camps and permanent violation of international law: the new federal government wanted to put an end to it. But it can monitor-Research out of the question.

By Lara Stratmann and Elke Brandstätter, WDR

These are hunting scenes that sea rescuers from the “Sea-Watch” initiative regularly document from the air. The so-called Libyan Coast Guard chase boats of refugees trying to flee to Europe and escape the militias. But they have no chance and are intercepted and taken back to Libya, where they risk torture and ill-treatment. Numerous video recordings of such interception actions are available to him. ARD-Magazine monitor before, the youngest is this week.

Continued violation of international law in the Mediterranean

According to the will of the current Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, such actions should no longer take place. The Greens politician has repeatedly criticized cooperation with Libya in the Mediterranean in the past: “Europe risks continuing to abandon its value system, because whoever counts on being thrown back on the high seas, transferring people to the Libyan coast guard, is in breach of international law”, she criticized in June 2018, while the Greens were still in opposition.

Previously heavily criticized German refugee policy: Annalena Baerbock 2018 as a member of the Bundestag.

Image: dpa

A crucial point of criticism, particularly of green politicians, was the creation of a so-called SAR zone, a “search and rescue zone” which allowed Libyan militias to intercept refugee boats off the European coast and bring back to Libya. To this end, the Libyan Coast Guard has been supplied with vessels and equipment by the EU and therefore also by Germany.

In the coalition agreement, the traffic light coalition had also promised a change of course in this refugee policy: “We want to put an end to illegal refusals and suffering at the external borders.” But obviously she does not feel linked to that in the Mediterranean.

The promised change of course, of course, did not materialize

Questioned by the Monitor, the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs now explains: “Libya is required, under international law, to organize and coordinate rescue at sea in its area of ​​​​responsibility”. Baerbock’s ministry clearly states how far this area of ​​responsibility extends: “Libya’s area of ​​responsibility includes the Libyan SAR zone”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs thus recognizes the system of the Libyan search and rescue zone created with the help of Europe – and with it the returns to Libya from international waters.

Green MPs criticize him: “The federal government is also aware of the dramatic situation for which the Libyan Coast Guard is responsible,” says Max Lucks, Green MP and Chairman of the Human Rights Commission. “That’s why I also expect the German government to work clearly and in different forms to ensure that the cooperation of the Libyan Coast Guard is not promoted as it has been so far.”

Sea-Watch’s Felix Weiss has been documenting controversial returns to the Libyan search and rescue zone for years and making them public. He is appalled: “The promises made by the new federal government can only be described as empty words. It’s shameful, you are only continuing a policy here that has also been pursued in Germany for 16 years.”

Torture and violence against refugees in Libya

It has been known for years that refugees who are intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard are taken to Libyan state detention camps. A recent report by a UN fact-finding mission to Libya at the end of June has once again documented the gravest crimes. As a result, “murders, enforced disappearances, torture, enslavement, sexual violence, and rape” occur in state detention camps.

Nidal Jurdi, head of the UN fact-finding mission in Libya, and his team spent nearly two years researching and conducting countless interviews with refugees. Now he demands consequences: “Any state or group of states that supports institutions that are currently implicated in widespread or systematic attacks on migrants supports the perpetrators. That should change.”

Meeting of the Libyan Coast Guard with the Federal Police

However, the Libyans still appear as a legitimate partner for the German authorities. This was revealed during a meeting between the Federal Police and representatives of the Libyan Coast Guard in early July. It was just an exchange of information and getting to know each other, federal police said on request. However, the Libyans had nevertheless expressed a desire for better equipment.

One thing is clear: the Libyan coast guard still needs to be modernized by Europe. According to internal reports, the monitor are available, at least 200 million would flow to North Africa each year. The main objectives mentioned in an EU document are border protection and rescue at sea in Libya. A so-called “action plan” for Libya clearly states that the Libyan Coast Guard and the Libyan Maritime Police need to be further strengthened “so that they can carry out effective search and rescue operations”.

No criticism of the Coast Guard upgrade

Asked explicitly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not say a word of criticism on this upgrade of the Libyan coast guard. An interview with a ministry representative is refused due to time constraints.

In June 2018, however, the current foreign minister made it clear: “You cannot cooperate with the Libyan Coast Guard, a regime, a terrorist regime, in whose camps people are being tortured and raped, to where people are fleeing. Obviously, she sees things differently today.

Source www.tagesschau.de

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