By Ilker Girit
European governments are "knowingly complicit" in the horrific abuse of migrants in Libya, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
The human rights group said in a statement that EU states "are actively supporting a sophisticated system of abuse and exploitation of refugees and migrants."
In a report published in the wake of global outrage over the alleged sale of migrants in Libya, the group said that the Libyan Coast Guard, detention authorities, and smugglers are responsible for the abuse of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants.
In order to reduce migration flows to Europe from Libya, the EU and Italy agreed with Libya in August to train the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept boats and return migrants to the country.
Although migration via the Mediterranean fell dramatically after the deal, Libya became home to the alleged abuse of migrants.
Last month, U.S. news channel CNN reported that many African migrants in Libya had been captured by local criminal gangs and sold into slavery in lawless regions near Tripoli.
Libya denied being responsible for the alleged slavery, instead calling on countries and international bodies to enforce all the protocols on migration and human trafficking.
According to the latest figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), nearly 420,000 migrants from 38 nationalities are trapped in Libya as about 120,000 individuals arrived in Europe this year.
The UN last month called the European Union’s policy of assisting the Libyan authorities to intercept and return migrants in the Mediterranean "inhuman."
“The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity,” UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said last month.
“What was an already dire situation has now turned catastrophic," he added.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, on Monday called for urgent 1,300 resettlement places for highly vulnerable refugees in Libya.
"This is a desperate call for solidarity and humanity. We need to get extremely vulnerable refugees out of Libya as soon as possible," said Volker Turk, the UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection.