The Council of State, Italy's highest administrative court, rejected an appeal contesting the 2017 allocation of 2.5 million euros to Libya's interior ministry from Italy's Africa Fund. The appeal claimed that the funds, used to support Libya's coast guard, worsened the condition of migrants in Libya.
In a ruling on September 9, the Council of State in Italy rejected an appeal by the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) that contested the allocation of 2.5 million euros from the so-called Africa Fund to the Libyan interior ministry in 2017.
The aid was provided for renovation and maintenance of four patrol boats and training of 22 members of the Libyan crew.
In their claim, the ASGI had said that "Italian support to Libyan forces is or was almost certainly destined to reinforce behaviors or actions constituting an international offence." This was rejected by the court, which stated that the claim was "a totally hypothetical and undemonstrated assumption."
The court said that Italy's intervention rather "aimed to incentivise the Libyan authorities' adoption of practices respectful of international law in border control operations and search activities in coastal waters."
ASGI claimed that the funds from Italy would worsen the condition of migrants in Libya, "making it increasingly difficult to flee from Libyan prisons where their life and safety is always in constant danger."
ASGI said the authorities to whom Italy gave support to have always been responsible for very serious violations of human rights, many of which were committed with the very patrol boats provided by Italy.
Therefore, ASGI said, even the "financing of equipment aimed at blocking migrants in Libya must be qualified as a de facto pushback activity put into place by our country."
Claim of 'delegated pushback' rejected
In their rejection, the Council of State judges said the appeal "lacks any proof of fact that the Italian State exercises or could exercise an effective 'control' over Libyan territory, that is, on Libyan authorities, so much that it could assume the form of a sort of 'delegated pushback' put into place by Libyan authorities but attributable to Italian ones, in violation of the principle of 'non refoulement' established by international conventions."