European Union migrant deal with Libya is 'inhuman'

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement that the European Union's policy of assisting the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept and return migrants in the Mediterranean is inhuman. "The detention system for migrants in Libya is broken beyond fix". They vowed especially to help improve conditions for migrants held in Libya.

"What was an already dire situation has now turned catastrophic", Mr Hussein said, urging the worldwide community to stop turning a blind eye.

Zeid, a Jordanian prince, said the monitors were shocked at the sight of "thousands of emaciated and traumatized men, women and children piled on top of each other, locked up in hangars with no access to the most basic necessities".

Some 19,900 people were being held in Libyan government facilities in early November, a sharp increase from about 7,000 in mid-September when authorities detained thousands of migrants after armed clashes in the trafficking hub of Sabratha, according to Libya's department for combatting illegal migration.

Migrants were powerless to defend themselves from the abuse, which is often perpetrated by traffickers or smugglers, and they can not challenge the legality of their detention or gain access to legal aid, Hussein noted.

He called for the creation of domestic legal measures and the decriminalisation of irregular migration to ensure the protection of migrants' human rights.