14th Aug 2022

Nurses statement on torture facilitated EU-Libya deal

Fresh details are emerging on last month's release of Bulgarian nurses from detention in Libya, with French daily Le Monde reporting the medics were allowed to leave Libya only after they signed a statement saying they would not sue Tripoli for torture.

The paper reported on Thursday (2 August) that before leaving Libya on board a French presidential airplane on 24 July, the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were obliged to declare in writing that they would not take any legal steps against the Libyan government for torture, maltreatment and abusive detention.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The six had been detained in Libya for over eight years accused by the authorities of infecting children with the AIDS virus - a charge they always denied.

It is believed, however, that the medics were forced to make confessions after having been tortured by Libyan authorities, with the freed Palestinian doctor saying that that the Bulgarian nurses were "raped" in prison, according to Le Monde. The forced confessions served as the basis for the Libyan death penalty verdict which was revoked only days before their release.

The six medics' statement was reportedly signed in Tripoli in the presence of European diplomats, including one Bulgarian official.

The signatures were a condition for the medics' release and formed part of an overall deal between the EU and Libya, which also included the prospect of closer ties between Brussels and Tripoli.

The waiver had been agreed at high EU level, with Le Monde quoting the spokesman of French president Nicolas Sarkozy as saying "this was the subject of an exchange of letters between the European Union and Libya."

Mr Sarkozy's spokesman was referring to a letter signed by Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU commissioner for external relations, and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German foreign minister, in the first half of this year when Germany held the EU presidency.

The spokeswoman for Ms Ferrero-Waldner declared that "the 27 member states were constantly informed about the details of the discussions" in Tripoli, adding that all of them were therefore aware of the conditions of the medics' release.

The EU's member states are signatories of various international conventions against torture.

On this year's International Day against Torture, on 26 June, the EU's representation at the UN released a statement saying that "the prevention and the eradication of all forms of torture and ill-treatment within the EU and worldwide is one of the main objectives of the EU human rights policy."

The statement highlighted the EU Guidelines on Torture, a set of policy guidelines adopted in 2001 which "provide the general framework for EU action in this area towards third countries, as well as in multilateral human rights fora."

It added that "the EU pursues a policy of raising the issue of torture systematically with third countries."

Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey

The Swedish government has agreed to extradite a Turkish citizen with Kurdish roots wanted for credit card fraud to Turkey, amid the backdrop of Turkey's Nato threat.

Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties

Beijing's club was meant to forge stronger European relations. Lithuania left it last year. Now Estonia and Latvia have also decided to walk over Chinese bullying.

EU hopeful of Iran nuclear deal

A possible deal to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear pact is within reach, says the European Union. Washington backs the final proposals, but Tehran remains cautious.


Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy

The Belgian parliament's recent decision to ratify its prisoner-exchange treaty with Iran is a grave mistake, and one which exemplifies the many downfalls of dealing with Iran's human-rights abuses on a case-by-case basis.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us