Foreign nationals traveling irregularly to and from Libya face abuses, including abductions for ransom, torture and in some cases rape and other forms of sexual violence, at all stages of the smuggling routes running from West and East Africa toward the Libyan coast.
A man whom Amnesty International identified as Charles, a 30-year-old Nigerian, recounted how he was abducted and physically assaulted a number of times by members of a criminal gang in the coastal city of Zuwara.
“I am a Christian and that’s why the men would always come to our house and attack us. We were three Christian Nigerians living in the same house. Even in the streets, armed men would ask me if I am a Christian.”
Another Nigerian migrant who also fled Tripoli, said “Libya is a country where Christians shouldn’t come. Any Libyan boss will ask you if you are Muslim or Christian. If you say you are Christian, then you are in trouble. He will not pay you. He will beat you more if you complain about anything.”
The rise of armed groups, which have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, has further increased the risks faced by religious minorities in Libya.
Widespread abuses and lawlessness are pushing hundreds of thousands of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees to risk their lives by attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.