French Armed Forces Cancel Delivery of Six Sillinger Speed Boats to GNA Coast Guard – Al Marsad

According to the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, France has cancelled the delivery of boats to the Libyan Coast Guard affiliated with the Presidential Council of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord.
[Libya, 3 December 2019] – The decision comes as eight non-governmental organizations submitted a request for cancellation of the delivery of six boats to Libya’s GNA Coast Guard for high-speed maritime operations, to the Administrative Court in Paris.

French Ministry of Defence as reported by France’s Le Monde newspaper announced in February its intention to deliver 12-metre long semi-rigid fast boats acquired from Sillinger, a French company specialized in professional, military, security and defence sectors, to the Libyan Coast Guard to enhance maritime security and combat illegal migration along the Libyan coast.

Lola Schulmann, in charge of migration issues at Amnesty International, said the decision not to deliver the boats “constitutes an important victory thanks to public pressure, and must mark a turning point in the relations of France with Libya in terms of migration policy.”

On 26 November the French Ministry of Defence sent a memorandum to the Administrative Court of Appeal in Paris, to which eight human rights NGOs filed a complaint requesting the cancellation of the delivery of the controversial boats.

However, the Minister of the French Armed Forces stated in a brief dispatched to the Administrative Court of Appeal in the French capital, Paris: “If the transfer was at that time considered for the benefit of Libya, the minister finally decided not to deliver the boats to Libya.”

The eight NGOs that legally disputed the delivery of these boats before the French judiciary based their argument on the controversial GNA coastguard’s alleged practices off the coast of Libya visa-à-vis the illegal migrants.

Julie Dungelhoeff, from France 24, wrote on Twitter: “As long as the migrants are held in Libya in inhuman conditions, France and other European countries will have to give up any form of collaboration which would have the effect of maintaining or driving them back into Libya.”

The eight non-governmental organizations that legally fought for the cancellation of the delivery of the six sophisticated speedboats to the Libyan coastguard celebrated the French decision, “we congratulate ourselves on abandoning this initiative, which would have made France an official accomplice in crimes against migrants and refugees in Libya.” These organisations seized the opportunity to call on the French government and the European Union to put “strict conditions on any bilateral and European cooperation with Libya so that the rights and security of migrants are guaranteed and respected.”

In a memorandum sent to the Court by the French Ministry of Armed Forces, the ministry affirmed that the objective behind the donation of the coast guard boats was “to accompany the Libyan state in the process of consolidating the rule of law and rebuilding the military capabilities of its national naval forces.”

© Al Marsad English (2019)

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