Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state
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With the EU committed to halting cross-Mediterranean irregular migration, a recent classified report produced by the EU's Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) Libya makes clear the difficulties that lie ahead in attempting to establish functioning state institutions in the country, including those willing to comply with European demands for "integrated border management".
See: EUBAM Libya Initial Mapping Report Executive Summary (25 January 2017, 5616/17, EU RESTRICTED, pdf)
The report was sent from the European External Action Service to the Council of the EU's Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management on 25 January. 'EUBAM Libya' was on the agenda for the committee's meeting on 1 February, although no minutes have been published so far.
It contains a map and overview of numerous Libyan state institutions: the ministries of interior, justice, defence and finance; the numerous overlapping bodies working in the fields of law enforcement and criminal justice; and border management and migration.
In August 2016 the mandate of EUBAM Libya was extended (Council of the EU, link) so that beyond issued related to "border management", it could also provide "advice and capacity-building in the area of criminal justice, migration, border security and counter-terrorism." The mission was set up in 2013 and its current mandate runs until August 2017.
The aim of the report is:
"to show the progress made to date to the Member States as an opportunity for mid-mandate reflection, in view of the upcoming Six-Monthly Report, and in preparation of the Mission Strategic Review of spring 2017 to inform about a possible way forward."
The paper confirms what was recently reported (The Guardian, link) regarding the situation in Libya's migrant detention centres:
"There are reports about these DCs [detention centres] which describe gross human rights violations and extreme abuse and mishandling of detainees, including sexual abuse, slavery, forced prostitution, torture and maltreatment. Detainees do not have access to proper medical facilities. The trafficking of migrants for organs has also been reported." (p.38)
A section on mistreatment and torture in the criminal justice system makes clear that torture is also regularly used against those arrested by the police or one of Libya's many other 'law enforcement' bodies:
"examples of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment have been frequently reported by detainees as having been perpetrated at the time of arrest."
The Ministry of Interior - ostensibly under the control of the UN-backed Government of National Accord - apparently remains in charge of Ain Zara prison, "where prisoners of conscience and political prisoners are detained."
Cooperation on issues of "border management" seem somewhat more developed than in other areas - which is not surprising given that EUBAM Libya has been in place since 2013, albeit spending much of that time located in Tunis due to the security situation in Libya.
Amongst the specific recommendations included in the report are for infrastructural and procedural overhauls of numerous institutions and for the implementation of "an operational concept on coastal surveillance, using the Frontex BORTEC feasibility study."
There is also a need:
"To review and update the current Libyan laws in regard to the detention/treatment of illegal migrants and to adopt a National Refugee and Asylum law as well as a policy according to international standards."
Whilst on the coast:
"It is imperative to find the balance between developing a strong technical structure (patrol vessels) for rescuing the migrants and develop a strong technical structure with an operational concept on land to prevent the departures and to counter criminal networks."
The ultimate aim is that "rescuing the migrants" will involve the Libyan coastguard taking them back to Libya.
The report sets out "recommendations for the way forward" in numerous different areas aside from "border management": governance; public safety and security; counter terrorism; organised crime; and criminal justice; along with four main principles: "no functionality without legality", "do not harm", "sustainability" and "ownership".
The report: EUBAM Libya Initial Mapping Report Executive Summary (25 January 2017, 5616/17, EU RESTRICTED, pdf)
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