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Resources updated between Monday, May 11, 2015 and Sunday, May 17, 2015

May 15, 2015

Security forces were accused of regular offenses

Report: Egypt's security forces use sexual violence to quell opposition Article

Pu Zhiqiang

One of China's best known and most outspoken human rights lawyers was formally charged Friday, effectively putting an end to his legal career and planting another milestone in the government's relentless crackdown on free expression.

Pu Zhiqiang, who has been in police custody for the past year, was charged with inciting racial hatred and "picking quarrels and provoking trouble" in a series of social media posts. His conviction is a foregone conclusion, legal experts here say, and he could face up to 10 years in jail. Lawyers in China are disbarred if they are convicted of a criminal offense.

Mr. Pu has been at the forefront of campaigns for political and legal reform since he took part in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. He defended dissident artist Ai Weiwei and Tibetan environmentalist Karma Sandrup and helped lead a successful campaign to abolish China's network of extra-judicial labor camps.

He was also one of the first people to publicly criticize former government security tsar Zhou Yongkang, now awaiting trial on corruption charges.

His indictment "is part of a broader pattern of cracking down on lawyers, civil society activists, or anyone who uses law, human rights, or free expression to challenge the social and political order in China," says Joshua Rosenzweig, a Hong Kong-based human rights activist.

Since President Xi Jinping took office in 2012, nearly 2,000 human rights and other political activists have been detained, according to China Human Rights Defenders, a watchdog that monitors the fate of activists in China. About half of them were arrested last year, in a significant tightening of the official screw.

The charges against Pu appear to be based exclusively on about 30 comments that he posted on his Weibo social media account, some of them barbed, some merely raising questions about government behavior.

"Picking quarrels and provoking trouble" is a catch-all charge the police are increasingly using to lock up critics of the ruling Communist party. The separate charge of inciting racial hatred laid against Pu appears linked to his critical comments on government policy in Tibet and the predominantly Muslim western province of Xinjiang.

Pu was detained in early May last year along with four friends who had met at a private home to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the violent suppression of the Tiananmen protests in Beijing, in which hundreds of people were killed by army troops.

His lengthy detention, repeatedly extended by the courts, had suggested that prosecutors were not convinced by the evidence the police had presented to support their charges. Two accusations against him of improperly obtaining personal information and provoking a serious disturbance were later dropped.

But under Chinese law, Pu could not have been held beyond next week unless he was formally indicted. "They ran out of time," says Mr. Rosenzweig. "They had to indict him or release him."

China Charges Prominent Human Rights Lawyer as Xi Tightens Screw Document

May 14, 2015

Amb. Roet addresses UNSC on Small Arms (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

"In the Middle East, the illicit trafficking of small arms is a big problem.

Small arms are the weapons of choice for terrorists who seek to spread fear and undermine stability. For years Iran has destabilized and radicalized the Middle East. In recent years it has also intensified its campaign to smuggle weapons to its terrorist proxies, including the Houthis in Yemen, Shiite militias in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Syrian Golan, and Hamas in Gaza...

In Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, terrorists groups have taken advantage of the chaos and instability to raid unsecured weapons caches. After securing the weapons, terrorist groups recruit and kidnap young boys to fight their battles. In Yemen, for instance, 7 year-old Hassan, was recruited by Houthi rebels to man checkpoints. Instead of learning to read and write, Hassan's only lessons are how to use his Kalashnikov rifle.

Like Hassan, countless young boys, have been forced to give up their childhoods to fight someone else's war. The next generation of children in our region deserves a brighter future a future without hate, without conflict, and without terror..."

Israeli Ambassador Tells Security Council to Care More about Muslim Children, Like 7 Year-Old Hassan Article

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius chairs a UNSC meeting on the crisis in the Middle East as the current President of Council at UN headquarters, March 27, 2015. Photo by Reuters

"Strategic consultations between Israel and France last week deteriorated into an argument over French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius' initiative to advance a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian issue in the United Nations Security Council, with Israel arguing that Paris was operating behind Israel's back...

Israeli diplomats said that in recent weeks the Foreign Ministry had received information indicating that the French had started discussing the wording of a draft resolution in both Paris and New York with the Palestinians, the Arab states and several members of the Security Council. By contrast, the French had not held similar consultations with Israel and never gave Israel a draft of the resolution or at least an outline of its main points.

[Foreign Ministry Director General Nissim] Ben-Sheetrit protested this behavior at last week's meeting, according to two Israeli diplomats familiar with the details of the discussions. 'You are speaking with the whole world about your initiative, just not with us'" the diplomats quoted him as saying. 'You seem to have forgotten that we are also a party to this and that you ought to involve us, too.'..."

Israel: France Pursuing UN Initiative on Palestinians Behind Israel's Back Article

Hassan Rouhani / AP

Iranian authorities have escalated their persecution of religious minorities since the election of President Hassan Rouhani despite his promises to grant them more rights, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The commission's annual report for 2015 found that an increased number of religious minorities have been jailed under Rouhani, who became president in 2013. He declared that year that, "All ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice"-comments that led many to perceive him as a more moderate leader. Yet the conditions for believers in Iran have deteriorated since his election, the commission said.

"The government of Iran continues to engage in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, including prolonged detention, torture, and executions based primarily or entirely upon the religion of the accused," the commission said in the report's section on Iran.

"Since his June 2013 election, President Hassan Rouhani has not delivered on his campaign promises to strengthen civil liberties for religious minorities," the report added. The religious minorities suffering abuses in Iran include Baha'is, Christian converts, Sunni Muslims, Jews, and Zoroastrians. Some have been sentenced to death and executed for committing "enmity against God" in the Islamic Republic, where Shiite Muslims form a majority.

Iran's largest non-Muslim religious minority, the Baha'i community, has experienced some of the worst repression. Authorities consider the Baha'is to be "heretics" because they believe that all religions have legitimacy, and they are not recognized as a protected religious minority under the Iranian constitution. More than 100 Baha'is were in jail for their beliefs as of February, the report said. They are often denied entrance to universities and frequently have their religious sites and businesses destroyed or closed.

Iran's brutal treatment of religious minorities has elicited sharp criticism from lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), whose state hosts one of only seven Baha'i temples in the world, recently introduced a bipartisan resolution condemning Iran for its repression of the community. A leading advocate of sanctioning the Iranian regime, Kirk has also pressed the Obama administration to expand the financial penalties levied against Tehran for its human rights abuses.

The administration continues to pursue a nuclear deal with Iran that would lift sanctions in exchange for modest restrictions on its nuclear program, though officials say financial restrictions tied to Tehran's support for terrorism and human rights violations would remain in place.

"If the Obama administration wants to be serious about holding Iran accountable, it should be working with Congress to reinforce and expand sanctions that target Iran's ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom and human rights," Kirk recently told "But it's not."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), also recently proposed a bill amendment that would prevent the Obama administration from lifting sanctions on Iran that are linked to its support for terrorism or human rights abuses. However, few amendments were added to the bill, known as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, in order to secure its passage in the Senate. The legislation permits Congress to pass a resolution of approval or disapproval if President Obama reaches a final nuclear deal with Tehran.

Christians also face severe repression in Iran. As of February, about 90 were either in detention or awaiting trial because of their beliefs. Human rights groups report that Christian prisoners are increasingly beaten in jail, possibly as part of an attempt by authorities to deter Iranians from converting to the faith.

Saeed Abedini, a U.S. pastor, is one of those imprisoned for his Christian faith. Once a participant in Iran's Christian house church movement, he was convicted in 2013 for "threatening the national security of Iran." He has been physically assaulted multiple times while in prison, the commission said.

"In November 2013, he was transferred to the Rajai Shahr Prison, which is known for its harsh and unsanitary conditions," the report said. "In March 2014, prison authorities beat Pastor Abedini after which he was hospitalized for nearly two months to receive treatment for the injuries sustained from the beatings. In May 2014, Pastor Abedini was beaten a second time when he was released from the hospital and returned to prison."

Iran's abuse of religious minorities appears to contradict recent comments by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who claimed that, "We do not jail people for their opinions."

Iran Escalates Persecution of Religious Minorities Under Rouhani Document

South Sudanese soldiers and gunmen have been in the middle of some of the heaviest fighting.(Reuters: James Akena)

Gunmen in South Sudan have raped girls, torched towns and looted aid supplies in one of the heaviest government offensives in the 17-month-long civil war, the UN and diplomats said Tuesday.

Over 300,000 civilians have been left without "life-saving aid" in the northern battleground state of Unity, after the UN and aid agencies pulled out due to a surge in fighting, with over 100,000 forced to flee their homes.

Boys as young as 10 have been abducted as child soldiers, the UN said, while aid groups said their bases had been ransacked.

The United States said it was "deeply disturbed by credible reports of grave human rights abuses against civilians" in the "government offensive against opposition forces."

The UN peacekeeping mission said reports from Guit and Koch counties in Unity included "towns and villages being burned, killings, abductions of males as young as 10 years of age, rape and abduction of girls and women, and the forced displacement of civilians".

Government forces are pushing towards the cut-off opposition zone around the town of Leer, home to some of the country's once lucrative oil fields.

International Committee of the Red Cross chief in South Sudan Franz Rauchenstein said he was "deeply worried" as frontlines moved closer.

The ICRC has withdrawn staff from Leer and warned that escalating fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar was forcing thousands of civilians to flee for their lives yet again.

Some 120,000 displaced people were sheltering in Leer, Rauchenstein told AFP Tuesday, warning that "now they were moving out into the swamps to hide, where they have no access to food or healthcare".

Unity state Governor Joseph Monytuil told reporters late Monday that government troops aimed to take Leer from opposition forces within days.

"Our forces... are now pursuing them to where they came from," Monytuil said.

- 'Man-made crisis' -

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Saturday it was forced to evacuate its foreign staff from Leer and halt all medical services amid fears the rebel-held town was about to come under "imminent attack".

Leer, the birthplace of Machar, was ransacked by government forces in January 2014. Gunmen looted the MSF hospital and burned some of the buildings.

MSF has since rebuilt the hospital, the only referral facility in opposition areas.

International Rescue Committee country chief Ronald-Paul Veilleux said their base in Koch, which once provided food and healthcare to 35,000 people, "has been destroyed".

South Sudan's civil war began in December 2013 and has been characterised by ethnically-driven massacres, rape and attacks on civilians and medical facilities.

Peace talks in neighbouring Ethiopia have so far failed to reach any lasting agreement, or even an effective ceasefire.

The violence, which has escalated into an ethnic conflict involving multiple armed groups, has killed tens of thousands of people in the world's youngest nation, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

It has also left over half of the country's 12 million people in need of aid, with 2.5 million people facing severe food insecurity, according to the UN.

European Union aid chief Christos Stylianides warned leaders must end the "man-made crisis" and strike a peace deal.

"If they fail to make the necessary effort for peace, they will inevitably be held responsible also for the consequences," he said in a statement.

'Girls Raped, Boys Abducted' as South Sudan Battle Rages Document

May 13, 2015

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

"The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court warned Israel Tuesday that if it doesn't provide reliable information for her preliminary probe into possible war crimes in Palestinian territories she may be forced to decide whether to launch a full-scale investigation based on Palestinian allegations.

Fatou Bensouda said in an interview with The Associated Press that she hasn't received any information yet from either side regarding last summer's Gaza war...

'If I don't have the information that I'm requesting,' she said, 'I will be forced to find it from elsewhere, or I may perhaps be forced to just go with just one side of the story...'

Bensouda reiterated that the examination 'will be conducted in the most independent and impartial way, devoid of any political considerations...'"

'Impartial' ICC Prosecutor Threatens to "Just Go With One Side of the Story" - the Palestinian Side Article

(File photo)

"Millions go to groups that promote anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views.

The United Nations and European governments are pouring millions into groups that promote anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views, according to report by a NGO watchdog released ahead of the 2015 Global Forum for Combatting Anti-Semitism in Israel.

The government-funded groups include several that have promoted anti-Semitic cartoons and published claims that Jews use Christian blood to make Passover matzah, according to the report by watchdog group NGO Monitor...

Another group, MIFTAH, which received funding from Norway and various UN programs in 2012 and 2013, published an Arab-language article on its website in 2013 that promoted blood libel..."

Report: UN, European Governments Funding Anti-Israel Groups Article

Ananta Bijoy Das was stabbed to death in the street - in daylight, on his way to work in a bank

A blogger was hacked to death by machete-wielding attackers in Bangladesh on Tuesday, the third killing of an online critic of religious extremism in the Muslim-majority nation in less than three months.

Ananta Bijoy Das, a blogger who advocated secularism, was attacked by four masked assailants in the northeastern district of Sylhet on Tuesday morning, senior police official Mohammad Rahamatullah told Reuters.

He said Das was a 33-year-old banker.

Das was also editor of science magazine "Jukti," which means "logic," and on the advisory board of "Mukto Mona" (Free Mind), a website propagating rationalism and opposing fundamentalism that was founded by U.S.-based blogger Avijit Roy.

Roy himself was hacked to death in February while returning home with his wife from a Dhaka book fair.

Roy's widow, Rafida Bonya Ahmed, who was maimed in the attack and is in hiding in the United States, told Reuters Das' case was similar to that of her husband.

"We told him so many times you need to be careful, but he just thought that this was his passion, what he was supposed to do, and he had been doing it for a long time," she said. She said Das had been a regional leader of an effort to bring alleged Muslim war criminals from the 1971 revolution to justice, a politically divisive issue.

Ahmed said she would not be surprised if more bloggers were targeted. "Because the killers know they can get away with this, it will continue to happen," she said. "This is serial killing."

According to monitoring service SITE Intelligence Group, Islamist militant group Ansar al-Islam Bangladesh said al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Imran Sarker, head of a network of activists and bloggers in Bangladesh, said if the government did not end "this culture of impunity ... the fundamentalists will turn our secular country into another Pakistan or Afghanistan."

More than 120 people have died in violent anti-government protests this year and thousands of opposition activists have been arrested.

Militants have targeted secularist writers in Bangladesh in recent years, while the government has tried to crack down on hardline Islamist groups seeking to make the South Asian nation of 160 million a sharia-based state.

On March 30, Washiqur Rahman, another secular blogger who aired his outrage over Roy's death on social media, was killed in similar fashion in the capital, Dhaka.

Blogger Hacked to Death in Bangladesh, Third This Year Document

Members of the Palestinian National Security service, loyal to Hamas, patrol the southern Gaza strip border on February 10, 2015. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

A leading Palestinian advocacy group says human rights for people living in the Palestinian territories are at their "worst" in years.

The annual report by the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights said hundreds of people were tortured by authorities in Gaza, ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas, and in the West Bank, governed by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.

It says several people died in Hamas detention and one died while incarcerated in the West Bank. It also says Hamas took 16 prisoners from their jail cells and killed them during the war with Israel last year.

Commission chief Ahmad Harb said other violations include bans on peaceful gatherings. He said rights violations "increased in volume" over the past four years.

Rights Group: Human Rights Under Palestinian Rule Worsened Document

May 12, 2015

(File photo)

The United States underwent its second so-called "Universal Periodic Review" at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on May 11, 2015.

The process, which has been heralded as the single most important innovation of the UN Human Rights Council created in 2006, featured a series of states with abysmal human rights records of their own, criticizing the United States.

For example, the representative of noted human rights violator Russia stated:

"We have carefully sorted the national report of the US as well as alternative reports. Unfortunately, we have to point out that the authorities of the country manifestly have not paid sufficient attention to the recommendations provided during the first cycle of the UPR. We would also note that the human rights situation in the country has seriously deteriorated recently. The government of the US must take urgent measures to improve the situation. We recommend: first, that it ensure independent and objective investigations into all cases of police arbitrary behavior, including murders, torture, arbitrary detention, the use of military equipment and the seizure of property. Second, that it provide effective legal and procedural guarantees against the collection and use by security services of personal information this includes abroad. Third, that it immediately close the Guantanamo prison and cease illegal detention of terrorism suspects at its military bases abroad. Four, that it stop extrajudicial killings of US citizens and foreigners including those being committed with the use of unmanned aircraft. Fifth, that it conduct impartial and objective investigations into all cases of the cruel treatment of adopted children and to eliminate the impunity for such crimes. Sixth that it stop the practice of racial profiling in judicial and law enforcement systems. Seventh that it withdraw all reservations to human rights treaties internationally and [...] provisions conscientiously."

Russia Scolds Obama at the UN Rights Council: "Take Urgent Measures to Improve Human Rights" Article

(File photo)

The United States underwent its second so-called "Universal Periodic Review" at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on May 11, 2015.

The process, which has been heralded as the single most important innovation of the UN Human Rights Council created in 2006, featured a series of states with abysmal human rights records of their own, criticizing the United States.

For example, the representative of Libya stated:

"...My delegation recommends the following. Expedite the ratification of the condition [sic] on the rights of the child. Number two, work and do all that is best in order to close down the Guantanamo facilities; number three, establish an independent commission insured by a special prosecutor to help identify and incarcerate the crimes perpetrated by individuals or groups based on racism. And finally, we wish the government of the United States all kinds of success in bringing up the level of performance of its national, legislative, and executive institutions."

Libya, in Almost Total Disarray, Told a UN Meeting that U.S. Legislative and Executive Institutions Need Improvement Article

(File photo)

The United States underwent its second so-called "Universal Periodic Review" at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on May 11, 2015.

The process, which has been heralded as the single most important innovation of the UN Human Rights Council created in 2006, featured a series of states with abysmal human rights records of their own, criticizing the United States.

For example, the representative of noted human rights violator China stated:

"The Chinese delegation welcomes the U.S. delegation to the UPR process. China would like to express its concern about some deep rooted human rights problems in the US and recommend the following: first, it should correctly address the root cause of racial discrimination and eliminate the frequently occurred excessive law enforcement of African ethnics and other minority ethnics; second, fully disclose the abuse of torture by its intelligence agency, ensure the accountability of the persons responsible, and agree to unrestricted visit by special rapporteur on torture to Guantanamo facilities; three, stop massive surveillance activities both inside and outside its territory to avoid violating the rights to privacy of its citizens and those of other countries; fourth, respect indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities' rights and interest, fully consult with them on their land, autonomy, environment, language and other issues, correct historical injustices and offer compensation; five, ratify as soon as possible ICSER [International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights], the CRC [Convention on the Rights of the Child], the CRPD [Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities] and CEDAW [Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women]."

China Used UN Meeting to Tell the U.S. to "Stop Violating Rights to Privacy" & "Respect Minority Rights" Article

(File photo)

The United States underwent its second so-called "Universal Periodic Review" at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on May 11, 2015.

The process, which has been heralded as the single most important innovation of the UN Human Rights Council created in 2006, featured a series of states with abysmal human rights records of their own, criticizing the United States.

For example, the representative of noted human rights violator Cuba stated:

"We welcome the delegation of the United States and we recommend that it prosecute and punish perpetrators of torture; suspend the intercepting, holding and use of communication, including monitoring and extra-territorial interception of information and the use of surveillance operations against citizens, institutions, representatives of other countries which violate the right to privacy, international law, and the principle of sovereignty for all states recognized in the UN charter; third, that it punish perpetrators of abuse and police brutality, which are matters of increasing alarm and are facts testifying to an upswing of racism, racial discrimination, particularly against Afro-Americans and Latinos and women; fourth that it adopt and apply a national plan in accordance with the Durban Declaration; fifth, that it guarantee the right by all residents in the country to adequate housing, food, health and education with a view to reducing poverty which affects 48 million people in the country. Thank you very much."

Despite Obama's Overtures, Cuba Told the UN that America Should Stop Torturing & Reduce Poverty Article

(File photo)

The United States underwent its second so-called "Universal Periodic Review" at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on May 11, 2015.

The process, which has been heralded as the single most important innovation of the UN Human Rights Council created in 2006, featured a series of states with abysmal human rights records of their own, criticizing the United States.

For example, the representative of noted human rights violator North Korea stated:

"Mr. President, we are very concerned that the US violations of human rights, and recommend one, to investigate the CIA total crimes which is [...] indignation among people to disclose all information and to allow investigation by international community in this regard; two, to take legal and administrative measures to address the civilian killings by the US military troops during and operating based in Afghanistan and Iraq by bringing perpetrators to justice and relieving the victims; three, to put to an end to all US military presence in foreign territories which is the root cause of human rights breaches, including homicide and rape; four, to take all measures to put to an end to police breaches, including the merciless killings of colored people and all racial discrimination; and finally to unconditionally abolish its [....] desolation on human rights and related matters, including the North Korea Human Rights Act. Thank you Mr. President."

North Korea Told UN Meeting on the United States "We are Very concerned by US Rights Violations" Article

(File photo)

The United States underwent its second so-called "Universal Periodic Review" at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on May 11, 2015.

The process, which has been heralded as the single most important innovation of the UN Human Rights Council created in 2006, featured a series of states with abysmal human rights records of their own, criticizing the United States.

For example, the representative of noted human rights violator Iran stated:

"Mr. President, the Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes the delegation of the USA to the 22nd UPR working group and recommends that the United States ratify the convention on the rights of the child and the convention on the rights of person with disabilities;, uphold its obligation to end all forms of racial discrimination in the country and protect the rights of African Americans against police brutality; take all legal measures to adopt and implement a national racial justice plan consistent with the Durban Declaration and programmable action; end discrimination in law and practice against all minorities and migrants particularly against women and children from poor families and take effective steps to prevent and combat violence against them; investigate torture allegations, extrajudicial executions and other violations of human rights committed in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib [and other] camps and subsequently close them. Mr. President, we are deeply concerned that the definition of racial discrimination used in federal and in state legislation and in court practice is not in line with the convention of the ICRD [International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination]. We call upon the United States to inter alia prohibit racial discrimination."

Iran Used the UN Rights Council to Lecture U.S. Diplomats to "End Discrimination Against all Minorities, Especially Women" Article

May 11, 2015

A man before being thrown off building by ISIS (Daily Mail)

Undercover male-only squads formed by Islamic State flagged up blokes who reacted favourably to their come-ons.

The honey trap tactic was used by special brigades of young fighters in the Hisbah religious police.

Sodomy is considered a crime under Isis' Sharia law and is punishable by death usually barbaric summary execution.

The terror network set up the ploy in a bid to eradicate all gay men from their lands in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Dozens of men have been killed for being gay by the Isis regime.

Graphic propaganda pictures of the Medieval-style murders have been distributed on at least four separate times since the turn of the year.

Dissident groups have revealed the underhand ploy that is sealing the fates of gay men under Isis control.

An undercover jihadi poses as a homosexual, makes contact with another man and sets up a meeting.

When the pair make contact the unwitting target is immediately arrested.

A member of the anti-Isis resistance said: "They set up dates to coax them into being arrested and executed.

"Homosexuality is viewed as the most disgusting practice by the regime.

"Jihadists have been seeking to entrap gay guys in sting operations.

"Sometimes the men are lucky if they have money and can pay a ransom but often they are taken straight to their deaths."

Just this week Isis's media arm released shocking photographs of four men being killed for their sexuality.

One accused of being gay was thrown from a two-storey building and then stoned.

And other three were made to kneel in a courtyard and shot in the back of the head with pistols by two masked executioners in Libya.

Islamic State's Secret Flirting Squads Expose Gay Men For Trial And Execution Document

Illegal migrants who attempted to sail to Europe sit in a boat carrying them back to Libya, at Khoms, Libya, May 6, 2015. AYMEN ELSAHLI/REUTERS

Refugees and migrants face rape, torture and abduction for ransom by human traffickers in Libya, forcing many to make the dangerous journey by boat to Europe, according to a new study.

The report from the rights group Amnesty International, titled "Libya Is Full of Cruelty," details the disturbing conditions for many who arrive in Libya to work or as a stop on their way to a better, safer life in Europe. Abuses also take place inside immigration detention centers, where migrants live in deplorable conditions and often suffer from health problems like scabies and dehydration.

"The ghastly conditions for migrants, coupled with spiralling lawlessness and armed conflicts raging within the country, make clear just how dangerous life in Libya is today," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa director.

Amnesty also documented religious-based abuse, particularly for Christians, and exploitation by employers of the migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa. Racism and xenophobia in Libya have sparked strong fears that migrants carry diseases, a phenomenon that was made much worse by the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa last year.

"They packed us in prisons saying that we are all contagious and have Ebola," a Nigerian woman who worked in Libya told Amnesty International.

The number of people who have crossed the border into Libya is unknown because they enter the country irregularly and without going through border checks. But the number is in the thousands every year, said Magdalena Mughrabi-Talhami, Libya researcher at Amnesty International and the report's main author.

Since the 2011 toppling of its longtime dictator, Colonel Muammar Al-Qaddafi, Libya has been mired in a chaotic situation. Rival factions have been vying for influence and two governments, each with its own web of affiliated militias, are currently competing for power. The lack of stability has also created an opportunity for extremists to make their mark. In February, the Islamic State terrorist group published a video showing the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians, most of them Egyptian, on a Libyan beach. In April, the group released another video showing the shooting and beheading of at least 28 Ethiopian Christians in Libya.

Between August 2014 and March 2015, Amnesty spoke to 70 people in Sicily and Tunisia who faced abusive conditions in Libya, including refugees fleeing conflict zones in the Middle East and Africa and economic migrants looking for work. Prior to Qaddafi's fall in 2011, Libya was both a transit point to Europe and a destination for workers. At the beginning of 2012, there was a hopeful atmosphere, said Mughrabi-Talhami; Libyans were returning safety from abroad and the country's labor market had starting attracting workers again.

"Since then, the people that are now leaving by boat are the established communities that have been working in Libya for many years. Then you have a new wave of people who are being smuggled in, or in some cases trafficked into Libya, from countries in East and West Africa," said Mughrabi-Talhami.

"They are using Libya as a point of transit," she said.

Most of the 35,781 migrants that have made the journey across the Mediterranean and arrived in Italy since the beginning of 2015 left from Libya. While Libyans haven't been leaving their country by boat, more than 400,000have been displaced internally by the conflict, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Thousands fled across the border into Tunisia last year.

Meanwhile, many migrants who were working in Libya have had their passports stolen or confiscated by employers, meaning they don't have a valid travel document to allow them to travel regularly across the border. With the U.N. and many embassies relocating from Libya due to safety concerns, many migrants Amnesty spoke with saw no entity left to protect them. "Effectively, the sea is really the only alternative, the only option, that they have," said Mughrabi-Talhami.

Migrants risk abuses at every step of their journey. When they arrive in Libya in the custody of smugglers, migrants are first held captive by in the desert without the means to leave or escape; they have little water, food or phone reception.

"They are really at the mercy of the smugglers. It's the first type of abuse they'd face," says Mughrabi-Talhami.

For female migrants, especially those traveling alone, the journey is particularly treacherous. Some women are coerced into sex along the smuggling route in order to continue their journey, or if they are unable to pay a fee to their smugglers. The highest ransom Amnesty documented was $8,000.

"If you're a woman and they see you have strong men around you and surround you and protect you, no one comes close to you. But if you're alone or the men with you are weak then you get into trouble," a Somali woman who traveled to Libya in June 2014 told Amnesty.

Others who cannot pay are held, sometimes for many months, to work without pay. Migrants told Amnesty they were seen "as slaves" by smuggles and treated "like animals."

"It is effectively a business that they are running. They detain you so that you have to pay," a Malian man who arrived in Libya in September 2014 told Amnesty. "If you don't answer their questions, they beat you...with rubber pipes."

A 19-year-old Syrian refugee recalls being forced to board a boat quickly and to squat because there was not enough room. People who want to change their minds upon seeing how unsafe the boats look are subject to beatings by armed men, he said.

European leaders held an emergency meeting last month on how to tackle the migrant crisis after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized in the Mediterranean, killing more than 800 people. Part of the E.U.'s plan of action includes clamping down on smuggling rings and bolstering the E.U.'s border patrol operations.

On Monday, Italy's foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, will meet with the U.N. Security Council with the hope of getting the group's backing for an international intervention to stop the boats leaving from Libya. Amnesty hopes the meeting doesn't result in "taking away the only means of escaping for many of these migrants and refugees," said Mughrabi-Talhami.

Seizing and destroying vessels before they're used by smugglers, something the E.U. has proposed, is not the appropriate answer to the crisis, Amnesty says. The E.U. is seeking Security Council approval to seize the boats.

"It may effectively contribute to people being trapped inside Libya and face serious human rights abuses," said Mughrabi-Talhami.

Report: Human Rights Abuses in Libya Force Thousands to Flee to Europe Document

Jordanian Prince Zeid Raad al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, during a news conference at U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, Oct. 16, 2014.

"The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, says he stands by his decision to suspend a senior U.N. official who leaked confidential documents about the sexual abuse of children in Central African Republic...

The high commissioner's suspension of U.N. whistleblower Anders Kompass three weeks ago has set off a firestorm. Kompass leaked a confidential U.N. report to French authorities alleging that 14 French soldiers assigned to a peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic sexually abused a number of children between eight and 15 years of age.

The alleged abuses occurred over a seven-month period that ended nearly a year ago (from December 2013 to June 2014), yet none of the incidents were under investigation before Kompass leaked the report. A U.N. tribunal has ruled on Wednesday that his suspension was 'prima facie unlawful,' and ordered the U.N. to reinstate Kompass, who is a Swedish national...

High Commissioner Zeid told VOA his office has implemented the judge's order as directed...'No, I did not apologize to Anders Kompass. I think it was regrettable that, in one way, the burden of responsibility has almost shifted entirely onto the U.N,' said Zeid."

UN Rights Chief Defends Suspension of Sex Abuse Whistleblower Article