How Libya became a jailer for Fortress Europe

With the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya descended into a civil war. The country has also become the hub of a migratory traffic on which the Libyan militias have the upper hand. But the role of European Union policies in this humanitarian crisis is also called into question, in an investigation published by the Algerian website Twala.

This is a very thorough investigation published by the Algerian website Twala in partnership with The Outlaw Ocean Project, a platform to support investigative journalism. Composed of two parts, it was directed by a freelance journalist, the American Ian Urbina.

In particular, he documents the operation of a secret prison for migrants west of Tripoli. Firmly guarded by men armed with kalashnikovs, this prison has the name Al-Mabani, “the Building”, yet described, by a sign at the entrance, as a “Tribunal for the prosecution of illegal migrants”.

The report stops on the journey of Aliou Candé, a 28-year-old migrant from Guinea-Bissau. He had tried to cross the Mediterranean on a makeshift raft, but was intercepted, along with 130 other migrants, by the Libyan coast guard. The young man, imprisoned in cell number 4 of the prison, describes a place with horrible living conditions: bodies piled up in tight spaces, deprivation of care, acts of torture. His basic rights were not respected since he was not charged and was not allowed to speak to a lawyer, reports Twala, which adds :

Some 1,500 migrants are being held there, in eight cells separated by gender.”

It is the Zintan Brigade, one of the most powerful militias in the country, that controls the prison and its armed men patrol the corridors. Ian Urbina thus describes the trafficking in which the guards engage, who offer the detainees to free them for the sum of 2,500 Libyan dinars, or about 380 euros. Appeals to the families of the detainees are even


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It was in the midst of a campaign of repression against the media, in 2020, that Twala was created by seasoned and recognized Algerian journalists. This independent news website aims to return to journalism“facts, rigor and


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