A Libyan coast guard officer escorting a boy at the port of Tripoli, Libya | Photo: EPA/STR
A Libyan coast guard officer escorting a boy at the port of Tripoli, Libya | Photo: EPA/STR

A group of organizations in Italy has lodged a complaint with the EU's financial watchdog, the European Court of Auditors. They say European financing of a program to stop migrants from leaving Libya violates EU and international laws.

On Monday, three Italian organizations – the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), and the Italian Recreational and Cultural Association (ARCI) – filed a complaint before the European Court of Auditors (ECA). In it they call on the European Union to "suspend funding to the program through which migrants are blocked in Libya, because it violates EU financing law regulations and international regulations on human rights."

The organizations also say that the European Commission "provides financial support to projects that support the pushback of people to Libya, where they undergo terrible abuses, in violation of its obligations to not contribute to serious violations of human rights."

"The Court of Auditors should start a special review of the 'Support to Integrated Border and Migration Management in Libya' program (IBM), funded through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTFA), which supports Libyan authorities, and ensure that the European Commission suspends the program pending necessary revisions," they said. 

EUTFA only for development activities 

"The resources of the Trust Fund for Africa can only finance activities aimed at reaching development objectives and not security and border control purposes," the organizations said in the complaint. "In addition, the resources are subject to regulations based on the principle of good financial management, which includes the obligation of a system of evaluation, mitigation, and monitoring of their impact on human rights."

Filippo Miraglia of ARCI said, "A Europe that contributes to serious violations of human rights and international law through the misuse of funds destined for development is a Europe that isn't upholding its commitments and is undermining its own foundations." 

Comments from the associations 

Valentina Azarova, GLAN legal consultant, said EU budget laws "require the EU to ensure the correct use of European funds for development, including monitoring and continually evaluating their impact on human rights."

"Without guarantees on safeguarding human rights, the EU program in Libya is in clear violation of European and international laws and is an accomplice to the human suffering caused by the return of migrants to Libya," Azarova said.

Giulia Crescini, a lawyer with ASGI, said, "In order to ensure transparency on the use of public funds and accountability for the actions that lead to serious violations of human rights and restrictions to access to the right of asylum for foreign citizens trapped in Libya, ASGI believes it is essential to find new ways and mechanisms of control, promoting strategic litigation in order to highlight the responsibility of Europe and member states for those violations of fundamental rights – a consequence of the policies of externalization of the borders and the right to asylum.“

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