Rights group criticizes Italy, EU's Libya migrant policy

Rights group criticizes Italy, EU's Libya migrant policy
In this photo taken on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, rescued migrants are assisted by Sea-Watch rescue ship's personnel in the Mediterranean Sea. A private rescue boat with dozens of migrants aboard sought permission for a second day to enter a safe port Sunday, but said so far its queries to several nations haven't succeeded. Another vessel crowded with panicking migrants and taking on water, meanwhile, put out an urgent, separate appeal for help in the southern Mediterranean. Sea-Watch 3, run by a German NGO, said Sunday it has contacted Italy, Malta, Libya as well as the Netherlands, since the boat is Dutch-flagged, asking where it can bring the 47 migrants it had taken aboard. Sea-Watch tweeted that Libyan officials had hung up when it asked for a port assignment. (Doug Kuntz/Sea-Watch via AP)

CAIRO (AP) — Human Rights Watch is urging Italy and the European Union to condition their support to Libya on tangible improvements in detention conditions for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

The New York-based rights group says in a report Monday that unquestioning foreign support for Libya’s coast guard leads to migrants being held in “arbitrary, abusive detention.”

It condemned such efforts to stem migration to Europe as contributing “to a cycle of extreme abuse” against people fleeing war and poverty.

The report documents “severe overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, and lack of adequate health care” in detention centers, including at least four instances of violent abuse by guards.

It says children have also been seen to be held in poor conditions.