The Latest: Italy PM: Fears for migrants in Libya resolvable

The Latest on Europe's response to the large numbers of migrants and refugees trying to reach the continent (all times local):

5:25 p.m.

Human rights activists have criticized the European Union for looking to Libya for help in curbing migration from Africa, but Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni says he thinks those worries can be addressed.

Libya's prime minister has asked Italy to send some naval ships to assist Libya's coast guard in combatting migrant trafficking. Gentiloni said Thursday his center-left government would brief parliamentary commissions on the request next week.

The premier acknowledged the problem of what happens to migrants if they are returned to Libya. Rescued migrants have told Italian authorities and humanitarian organizations about torture, rape, beatings and other atrocities they have suffered in Libyan camps..

Gentiloni said international organizations on the ground in Libya could help guarantee the proper treatment of those forced to return to Libya and their eventual repatriation to their homelands.


2:55 p.m.

Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni says sending Italian naval units to help Libya's coast guard could be a "turning point" in combating migrant trafficking.

Gentiloni told reporters Thursday that next week his center-left government will brief parliamentary commissions about Libya's request.

Libya's prime minister met in Rome with Gentiloni on Wednesday and asked Italy to send some naval ships. Gentiloni noted that Italy already has helped Libya's coast guard with motorboats and training aimed at improving Libyan patrols along its Mediterranean shores. Traffickers, exploiting widespread lawlessness in Libya, have sent hundreds of thousands of migrants in unseaworthy smuggling boats toward Italy.

Gentiloni said his government was working out the details of a possible naval mission, saying he's "certain" Parliament would approve Libya's request for "collaboration and assistance" in combating traffickers.