December 2, 2017

Addressed to:

Mr. Donald Tusk
President of the European Council

Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker
President of the European Commission

Mr. Antonio Tajani
President of the European Parliament

Mr. Marco Minniti
Italian Minister of the Interior

Mr. Angelino Alfano
Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

Mr. Emmanuel Macron
President of France

Dear European and Italian Leaders,

We are writing as concerned global citizens of Italy and other countries. We call on European Institutions and the Italian government to be leading forces in resolving the dramatic humanitarian crisis currently unfolding among migrants and refugees in Libya.

The EU and Italy are in a unique position to affect positive change in Libya. EU funding has been instrumental in helping stop boats from departing Libyan waters. The agreement between Italy and Libya to stop migrants from arriving on Italian shores, the historical ties between the two countries, and recent exhortations from United Nations representatives all demand decisive leadership from the Italian government. The international community, the European Union and Italy must step in to put an end to these horrendous and well-documented human rights abuses.

It is no coincidence that we write on the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. December 2 marks the date the United Nations General Assembly adopted the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons in 1949. The detention of migrants and refugees in Libya has led to torture, physical abuse, malnutrition and forced labor. The lives of thousands of men, women and children are being destroyed daily. Auctions are being held in which migrants and refugees are being sold into slavery. Women have recounted rape and other sexual violence at the hands of smugglers and guards at detention centers. A woman from Ivory Coast told UN staff that, “Armed men came in and chose six women, including me, and took us out one by one. When I first refused, I was slapped, and a gun was pointed at my head. Four men raped me outside. I was in early stages of pregnancy, I bled profusely, and I think I lost the baby. I haven’t seen a doctor yet.”

A recent CNN video documenting modern day slavery in Libya has caused worldwide outrage, yet the horrendous situation in Libya has been known for some time. Reports issued by the UN Mission and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have amply documented the horrors being committed in Libyan detention camps.

Most recently, UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein stated that, “The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity.” Hussein went on to say that “The European Union’s policy of assisting the Libyan coast-guard to intercept and return migrants in the Mediterranean [is] inhuman.”

“We cannot be a silent witness to modern-day slavery, rape and other sexual violence, and unlawful killings, in the name of managing migration and preventing desperate and traumatized people from reaching Europe’s shores,” Hussein said.

The EU and Italy are aiding the Libyan Coast Guard in intercepting migrant boats in the Mediterranean, even though this condemns more migrants to detention and exposes them to these terrible crimes. In addition, this leads to detainees having no possibility to challenge their detention and no access to legal aid.

For Europe and Italy, this controversial program has been “successful” in that it has reduced migrant arrivals by 70% since July 2017. However, the EU and Italy have a clear moral responsibility to do everything in their power to avoid the grave and horrendous consequences of their own actions. This must include reviewing the current Italian-Libyan migration control agreement.

There are examples of virtuous and humane migration programs, such as the Humanitarian Corridors program enacted by several local organizations that allows for safe and legal passage of vulnerable migrants and refugees. These programs have been praised internationally and constitute an alternative to the horrors of human trafficking. We are pleased to learn of the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs’ recent signing of a new memorandum with the Communities of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy and the Waldensian Board to renew the Humanitarian Corridors program for 2018-2019 and we call for the expansion of this type of initiative into other European countries.

In the face of modern-day slave markets and the complete debasement of basic standards of human treatment in Libya, silence and inaction are not options. Italy and the EU must commit to revising the current international agreements with Libya. They must commit to engaging the international community and to finding solutions to the appalling humanitarian situation in Libya.



Liane Arter, Peter Luntz, Aurora Colucci, Asia Musicco, Women’s March Milan (Milan, Italy)
Uma Mishra-Newbery, Women’s March Global / Women’s March Geneva
Jackson Hyland-Lipski, Women’s March / Women’s March Global
Rebecca Amsellem, Les Glorieuses
Anna Polo, Pressenza International Press Agency
Solidarity for Humanity (Switzerland)
Women’s March Barcelona
Women’s March Rome
Tony Robinson, Pressenza International Press Agency
Madrid Resistance
Women’s March Paris
New York Indivisible
Kristina Dimitrova, Bulgaria
Isabella Jorge, Switzerland
Women’s March Frankfurt
Duncan Gromko
Sybil Nmezi , Generation Initiative for Women and Youth Network , Nigeria
Europa United
Women’s March Stockholm
Action Together Network
Susana Pereira – ACEGIS –  Citizenship, Entrepreneurship, Gender and Social Innovation Association (Portugal)
Isobel Edwards, UK
Susan Sanders, USA
Federica Gentile, USA
Susan Donnell
Kristena Katelas
Elisa Crassweller
Arianna Balet, Canada
Kathryn O Doherty, Ireland
Valerie Peer, Austria
Shanna Wells, USA
The Trousdale Family, USA
Lotta Kuylenstjerna, Sweden
Isabelle Mendy, France
Colleen Daniels, South Africa
Céline Barthet, France
Adrian Jorge, Switzerland
Sierra Hunter, USA
Marcella Martin, USA
Christine Headley, UK
Angelica Marie
Jorge Carazas, Convergenza delle Culture, Milan, Italy
Antonella Freggiaro, Abarekà Nandree onlus, Milan, Italy
U.S. Citizens for Peace and Justice – Rome, Italy
Aishwarya Unnikrishnan, India
Women’s Development Cell,Miranda House, University of Delhi
Nadia Boaretto, feminist, Milan, Italy
Luciana Genolini, Italy
Ester Arguto, Italy
Stephen Scapelliti, USA
Nadia Ahmed, UK
David Goemans, NL
Beatrice Jorge, Switzerland
Milena Michoud, Switzerland
Laurien van de Rijt, The Netherlands
Brandie Stephens
Malika Akhiat, The Netherlands
Éléonore Mayola, Sweden
Francesca Strangio, Italy
Julliette Sallin
Women’s March the Netherlands
Tammy Sheldon, The Netherlands

Amalia Navoni, Coord. Nord Sud del Mondo, Italy
Alejandro Volkoff, Pressenza, Barcelona, Spain
Vittorio Agnoletto, associazione CostituzioneBeniComuni, Italy
Laura Quagliuolo, Milan, Italy
CISDA onlus – Coordinamento italiano in sostegno donne afgane, Italy
Dana Feminová, Svět bez válek a násilí, Czech Republic
Valentina Robecchi, Italy
Anita Sonego, Presidente della Casa delle Donne di Milano, Italy


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