Nobody should be forcibly returned to Libya, says HRW

Human Rights Watch chief Kenneth Roth
Updated 18 January 2018
0

Nobody should be forcibly returned to Libya, says HRW

PARIS: European authorities should not be sending migrants trying to reach the continent back to Libya until the security situation there has stabilized, the chief of Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
“The way migrants are treated in Libya is horrendous, where we hear over and over stories of forced labor, forced sexual abuse, torture,” Kenneth Roth said in an interview as the group released its annual report on risks around the globe.
While acknowledging Europe’s right to restrict immigration after hundreds of thousands have poured into member states in recent years, Roth criticized a Brussels-backed deal that helps Libya block migrants from trying to reach Europe.
“The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said that more migrants are dying inside Libya than die once they get in a boat to cross the Mediterranean. So that gives you a sense of how bad things are,” Roth said.
At least 3,100 migrants died or disappeared trying to cross to Europe last year, the IOM has said, though attempts have slowed since the deal by Libya and Italy, the main destination, to halt the flow.
Shocking images last year of black Africans being sold in Libya have led European officials to stop returning migrants to the country, Roth said.
“But they’re trying to do indirectly what they can’t do directly by building up and training the Libyan coast guard so that the Libyans on their own can simply return people back to the traffickers,” he said.
“You can help them return home if that’s what they want, but nobody should be forcibly returned to Libya.”
Roth, a 62-year-old former lawyer, also underscored the risks as more populist leaders come to power around the world, while criticizing Western governments for not pushing hard enough against leaders accused of rights abuses in their own countries.
While he qualified the arrival of US President Donald Trump as “a moment of despair,” he was also critical of his predecessor Barack Obama over failing to close the Guantanamo prison or take stronger action against Syria’s Bashar Assad.
“I admire President Obama,” Roth said, but “he wasn’t willing to pay the political price to actually close Guantanamo ... He wasn’t really willing to do anything to stop Assad committing mass atrocities in Syria.”
HRW, which publishes about 100 reports on dozens of countries each year, has seen its prominence grow over the past two decades, becoming a multinational advocacy group employing some 425 people.
It is backed by private donations from individuals and foundations, including that of US billionaire George Soros.
“Everybody likes to pretend that they respect human rights; When we’re able to show that they fall short, it’s embarrassing,” Roth said.


Malaysia says it won’t host any more events involving Israel

Updated 16 January 2019
0

Malaysia says it won’t host any more events involving Israel

  • Malaysia is a strong supporter of the Palestinian plight
  • The government said Israeli swimmers cannot join the competition in July that serves as a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia: Malaysia’s foreign minister said Wednesday that the government will not budge over a ban on Israeli athletes in a para swimming competition and has decided that the country will not host any events in the future involving Israel.
Malaysia, a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, is among the predominantly Muslim countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. The government has said Israeli swimmers cannot join the competition in eastern Sarawak state in July, which serves as a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said the Cabinet affirmed last week that no Israeli delegates can enter Malaysia for sporting or other events in solidarity with the Palestinians.
“The Cabinet has also decided that Malaysia will not host any more events involving Israel or its representatives. This is to me, a decision to reflect the government’s firm stance over the Israeli issue,” Saifuddin said after meeting a coalition of Muslim groups. The groups submitted a memorandum urging the government to stick to the ban and not to repeat mistakes in the past of allowing Israel delegates into the country.
Saifuddin said the Palestinian cause was not just a religious issue but also a human right violation.
“It’s about fighting on behalf of the oppressed,” he said.
Israel’s Paralympic Committee did not immediately reply to an email requesting comment on Malaysia’s move.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said the International Paralympic Committee can withdraw Malaysia’s right to host the July 29-Aug 4 championship involving athletes from some 70 countries if they wish to do so. The committee has said it was disappointed with Mahathir’s comments but hopes to find a solution to the issue.
This isn’t the first time Malaysia has stopped Israeli athletes from competing in a sports event. In 2015, two Israeli windsurfers had to withdraw from a competition on the resort island of Langkawi after they were refused visas to enter. The following year, Malaysia decided not to host a 2017 conference of the world football governing body FIFA because an Israeli delegation was scheduled to participate.
But earlier this year, the government allowed a high-level Israeli delegation to attend a UN conference in Kuala Lumpur, sparking widespread anger among Muslim groups.
Some 60 percent of Malaysia’s 32 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims. Many have taken to the streets in the past to support the Palestinian cause.