Alert: Libya – Alleged attempt to deport Eritrean refugees from Misratah

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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10 July 2008

Alert: Libya – Alleged attempt to deport Eritrean refugees from Misratah

Contents
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Sample Letters

1. Summary

Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has received reports that in June 2008 there was an alleged attempt to deport 230 refugees detained at Misratah. A man who had been regularly visiting the detainees as an official from a human rights organization tried to deceive the detainees by informing them that those whose names he had on a list should prepare to travel next day to be resettled in Italy. He gave them a name of an organization and its chairman and informed them that they have sponsored the detainees to be resettled in Italy. However, upon investigation, the detainees discovered that this organization had no relation to this supposed resettlement. Further, no interviews or medical tests were conducted for any detainee before the alleged resettlement. The detainees, therefore, did not believe him and adamantly refused to comply with the man’s request and threatened to commit suicide if they were taken forcibly. So far they have successfully avoided a supposed deportation, however the chances of a forced return to Eritrea in the near future seems quite high.

2. Background

Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has received reports that in June 2008 there was an alleged attempt to deport 230 refugees to Eritrea, currently detained in Misratah. A man who had been regularly visiting the detainees as an official from a human rights organization informed the refugees that those whose names he had on a list should prepare to travel the next day to be taken to Italy. He gave them a name of an organization and its chairman and informed them that they have sponsored the detainees to be resettled in Italy.

The detainees did not believe him as he conducted no interviews or medical tests, which is the routine to be followed with refugees being prepared to be resettled elsewhere. The detainees also discovered through sources that this organization, claimed by the man to be funding the detainees’ resettlement to Italy, had nothing to do with any sponsorship plan. Further, the chairman of this organization helped in the investigation of this whole case by contacting the UNHCR representatives in Libya.

Nevertheless, Libyan security forces were reportedly called into the detention centre to take the detainees by force. The detainees adamantly refused and threatened to commit suicide by drinking bleach, which the detainees had been handed out in bottles for cleaning purposes. Hence, so far the detainees’ threats have worked and there have been no further attempts to remove them from the detention centre.

For background information about the detained refugees in Misratah and links to previous alerts, please refer to: https://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=3380

To read the briefing prepared by IHRC on the issue, please visit: https://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=2835

3. Action Required

a) Write to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and appeal to him to thoroughly monitor the detainees’ situation.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
High Commissioner Mr. Antonio Guterres
Case Postale 2500
CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt
Suisse.

Alternatively you can email UNHCR by visiting link http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/contact?hq=y

4. Sample Letters

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Sample letters are given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is extremely important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters.
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Sample Letter to Mr Antonio Guterres, UNHCR

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[Date]

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
High Commissioner Mr Antonio Guterres
Case Postale 2500
CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt
Suisse.

Dear Mr Antonio Guterres,

Re: Alleged attempt to refugees to Eritrea from Misratah

I am deeply concerned about reports of an alleged attempt to deport 230 refugees to Eritrea, currently detained at Misratah detention centre. If they are deported, they are likely to face imprisonment and ill-treatment upon return.

According to the reports, a man who had been regularly visiting the detainees as an official from a human rights organization tried to deceive the detainees by informing them that those whose names he had on a list should prepare to travel the next morning to be resettled in Italy. He gave them a name of an organization and its chairman and informed them that they have sponsored the detainees to be resettled in Italy. However, upon investigation, the detainees discovered that this organization had no relation to this supposed resettlement. Further, no interviews or medical tests were conducted for any detainee before the alleged resettlement. Hence the detainees adamantly refused to comply with the man’s request and threatened to commit suicide if they were taken forcibly. So far they have successfully avoided any attempts of transfer elsewhere.

I am deeply concerned about the fate of the detainees at Misratah. They seem to be in a very vulnerable situation, and can be deported back to their countries any day, regardless of the efforts being made by UNHCR and other concerned organizations against a deportation.

I feel chances of their deportation in the near future are quite high; therefore, I request you to be more vigilant concerning the detainees and monitor their situation intensely and ensure that they are guaranteed protection while they are detained. Please arrange for the detainees to be safely relocated to secure residences as soon as possible.

Please urge the Libyan authorities to treat the refugees in accordance with international human rights standards.

I look forward to hearing from you soon on this urgent matter,

Yours sincerely,

[Your Signature]

[Your Name]

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