HRW criticizes Italy, EU’s Libya migrant policy

An unflatable boat with 47 migrants on board is pictured while being rescued by the Dutch-flagged Sea Watch 3 off Libya's coasts on Jan. 19, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 21 January 2019

HRW criticizes Italy, EU’s Libya migrant policy

  • Rights group says that unquestioning foreign support for Libya leads to migrants being held in “arbitrary, abusive detention”

CAIRO: Human Rights Watch is urging Italy and the EU 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.

Millions of migrants have applied for asylum in Europe, but some countries have toughened their asylum laws and tried to deport more people than they did previously.

On Sunday, a private rescue boat carrying dozens of migrants said that for a second day several nations had not given permission for it to enter a safe port, while another vessel filled with panicky migrants and described as taking on water in the southern Mediterranean was helped by a cargo ship.

The Dutch-flagged boat Sea-Watch 3, run by a German non-governmental group, said it had contacted Italy, Malta, Libya and the Netherlands asking where it could land the 47 migrants it had taken aboard. Sea-Watch tweeted that Libyan officials hung up when it asked for a port assignment.

An Italian state TV reporter aboard Sea-Watch 3 said the rescue took place Saturday about 50 km off the coast west of Tripoli in Libya’s search-and-rescue area. Libya-based human traffickers launch flimsy or rickety boats crowded with migrants hoping to reach Europe and its opportunities for better lives.


So-called honor killing of teen girl brings outcry in Iran

Updated 3 min 34 sec ago

So-called honor killing of teen girl brings outcry in Iran

  • Iranian president Rouhani has urged his cabinet to speed up the introduction of harsher laws against such killings

TEHRAN: The so-called honor killing of a 14-year-old Iranian girl by her father, who reportedly used a farming sickle to behead her as she slept, has prompted a nationwide outcry.
Reza Ashrafi, now in custody, was apparently enraged when he killed his daughter Romina on Thursday after she ran away with 34-year-old Bahamn Khavari in Talesh, some 320 kilometers (198 miles) northwest of the capital, Tehran.
In traditional societies in the Middle East, including Iran, blame would typically fall on a runaway girl for purportedly having sullied her family’s honor, rather than on an adult male luring away a child.
Romina was found five days after leaving home and taken to a police station, from where her father brought her back home. The girl reportedly told the police she feared a violent reaction from her father.
On Wednesday, a number of national newspapers featured the story prominently and the social media hashtag #RominaAshrafi reportedly has been used thousands times on social media, with most users condemning the killing.
Proposed legislation against honor killings has apparently shuttled for years among various decision-making bodies in Iran.
On Wednesday, Romina Ashrafi’s case led Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to urge his Cabinet to speed up harsher laws against such killings and he pushed for speedy adoption of relevant legislation.
There is little data on honor killings in Iran, where local media occasionally report on such cases. Under the law, girls can marry after the age of 13, though the average age of marriage for Iranian women is 23. It is not known how many women and young girls are killed by family members or close relatives because of their actions, perceived as violating conservative Islamic norms on love and marriage.
Iran’s judiciary said Romina’s case will be tried in a special court. Under the current law, her father faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Iran’s vice president in charge of family affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, expressed hope that a bill with harsher punishments will soon be in the final stages of approval.
Shahnaz Sajjadi, special assistant to citizens’ rights in the presidential directorate on women and family affairs, on Wednesday told the khabaronline.ir news website “We should revise the idea that home is a safe place for children and women. Crimes that happen against women in the society are less than those that happen in the homes.”