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“People started crying and shouting: ‘We don’t want to go to Libya!’, ‘We prefer to die!’” 

In Malta, three youths face life in prison for their roles in helping fellow asylum-seekers escape torture and persecution in Libya. Demand justice for The El Hiblu 3.

 Donate to help free the El Hiblu 3. 

In March 2019, three African teenagers (aged 15, 16, 19), who would go on to be called the El Hiblu 3, boarded a crowded rubber boat, fleeing Libya seeking a safer, better life.The rubber boat carrying 108 people sank and they were rescued by a cargo ship, El Hiblu. 

The El Hiblu’s crew tried to return those rescued to Libya. As a result the rescued people began to panic, horrified at the prospect of returning to the torture they had escaped. 

Danger that Amnesty International continues to expose. Amnesty International has documented widespread arbitrary detention, torture, rape and exploitation of people seeking asylum in Libya. 

Knowing he spoke English, the chief officer of the ship asked the 15-year-old boy “What can I do to get them to calm down?” The boy replied: “Don’t take us back to Libya”.

The ship turned around and set off for Malta. The three youths helped the chief officer by interpreting, calming the panicked passengers. Devastatingly the media and politicians spun the story, accusing the three boys of ‘hijacking’ the El Hiblu, consequently the Maltese army stormed the ship.

The three youths were disembarked in Malta in handcuffs, despite the police testifying that the crew were in control, no one was hurt, and nothing was damaged. 


Through the work of our research teams, litigation specialists, campaigners, media teams and our wonderful volunteers - we investigate and expose human rights crimes, often in the world’s worst crisis zones.

This work means Amnesty can continue to research and document widespread arbitrary detention, torture, rape and exploitation of people seeking asylum in Libya. With the goal of building campaigns that will cause all charges against the El’Hiblu 3 to be dropped as soon as possible. With your donation today you can help us build campaigns that demand fair trials for persecuted people and pressure governments to honour their responsibility to protect every single person’s rights. 


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This financial independence means we’re free to campaign with objectivity and impartiality and to defend human rights worldwide.

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© Scott Langley
Amnesty International activists