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Petition to European Parliament Challenging EU’s Material Support to Libyan Abuses Against Migrants

Today (Thursday, 11 June 2020) the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), and two Italian NGOs, the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), and the Italian Recreational and Cultural Association (ARCI) filed a Petition to the European Parliament under Article 227 of the Treaty of the European Union, concerning the Mismanagement of EU Funds by the EU Trust Fund for Africa’s ‘Support to Integrated Border and Migration Management in Libya’ (IBM) Programme.

This filing is part of a broader initiative by the three organisations to challenge the EU's material support and complicity in illegal push-backs. A coalition of thirteen NGOs backed these efforts in a statement that calls on the EU to review and remedy its cooperation with Libya and end its involvement in the containment of individuals in Libya and its resultant exposure of migrants to egregious abuses by Libyan actors – acts that make Libya an ‘unsafe country’ from the perspective of the European Convention on Human Rights, and include potential crimes against migrants under investigation by the International Criminal Court.

On 27 April 2017, GLAN, ASGI and ARCI submitted a complaint to the European Court of Auditors (ECA) requesting the review and reform of the EUTFA’s programme funding migration management in Libya implemented by the Italian Interior Ministry and benefits the Libyan coast guard. The programme is illegal for using European development funds for the non-developmental purposes of border securitization, and for managing such funds without proper human rights safeguards and conditionality in contravention of EU law requirements.

On 18 May 2020, the ECA responded to the complaint stating that it will not initiate a special review of the programme at this time, due in part to limited resources. This Court did commit to “carefully analyse” the submission during its annual programming process, as well as in the context of its planned follow-up to its 2018 Special Report on the EUTFA.

This Petition to the European Parliament's Petitions (PETI) Committee aims to place the issues raised by the complaint onto the agenda of a cross-section of European Parliament committees, and to mobilise the Parliament to address these issues under its budgetary and oversight authority over the use of European development funds. The PETI Committee supervises the EU’s migration cooperation in the Mediterranean, and has maintained that migration cooperation “by the EU […] needs to be regularly monitored and evaluated […] and, if necessary, adjusted or enhanced to ensure […] respect for fundamental rights.”

The organisations, as EU-registered NGOs, asked the PETI Committee to review the compliance of the Libya migration-management programme with EU law, in cooperation with relevant Parliamentary committees and through engagement with the EU Commission, and to recommend the appropriate means and measures to remedy this situation. Specifically, we request that the Committee:

a) Initiate meaningful inquiry into the misuse of European development funds by the EUTFA’s Libya programme;

b) Take steps to ensure that the irregularities caused by the programme be effectively addressed by the ECA in its follow-up to its 2018 Special report on the EUTFA;

c) Make concrete recommendations and take steps to remedy these irregularities in the use of the EU budget, and address other relevant EU institutions and procedures, including the European Parliament’s approval of the EU’s budget through the ‘discharge procedure’;

d) Engage parliamentary committees with relevant mandates and existing interest in the issues raised by this Petition; and

e) Consider referring this matter to OLAF.

According to the Memorandum of Understanding between Libya and Malta on “combatting illegal immigration,” Malta has supported an increase the EU Commission funding to the Libyan authorities to help them in “securing the southern borders of Libya”. We are concerned that like the EU’s other external funding programmes in support of border control and migration management, financial support for Malta’s migration cooperation with Libya would be provided through the EUTFA, and would thus replicate the financial and other illegalities of the Libya programme. The likelihood of this happening makes it urgent that Parliament affirm its role and exercise oversight over the use of EU funds by the EUTFA.

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