France is once again on the hot seat for its arms sales and diversion of use. In July 2018, several NGOs denounced Egypt's use of military equipment to repress the population.
Report denounces French arms sales to Egypt
Monday, April 15, the investigative media Disclose pointed, documents in support, the use of French armament in the war that leads Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Yemen. On Thursday, April 25, eight NGOs will oppose the delivery of six boats to Libya in the coming months, officially to fight against illegal immigration.
The administrative court seised in summary
Amnesty International, Médecins sans Frontières, Cimade, Migreurop, Gisti and the Italian association Asgi have announced that they are taking urgent administrative proceedings before the Administrative Court, suspending these deliveries. For, according to them, by providing boats for the Libyan coastguard, France becomes complicit in the human rights violation perpetrated against migrants and refugees in Libya, violates the UN embargo on arms sales to Libya. Libya and also violates the EU regulation on the subject.
French weapons used in Yemen
At the security conference held in mid-February in Munich, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly told Fayez el-Sarraj, the chairman of the Tripoli-based National Unity Government (GNA), the purchase by France of six boats for the benefit of the Libyan Navy to control the flow of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean.
"Libyan coast guards are threatening when they intercept migrants at sea and systematically send them back to detention centers", denounces Michael Neuman of MSF, the NGO is still present on the soil of Libya. "France is complicit in these practices", believes there.
Serious deterioration of the humanitarian situation
The conflict in Tripoli since Marshal Haftar launched in early April, the offensive to conquer the capital gives particular acuity to the approach of NGOs. According to UN agencies, at least 278 people were killed, 1,332 injured and 35,000 displaced. "The humanitarian situation in and around Tripoli has deteriorated badly for three weeks"warns the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The plight of migrants held in official and unofficial detention centers is worrying. "A detention center was attacked on April 23 – did the attackers want to recover this former military barracks? – more than 20 seriously injured, 325 people had to be evacuated urgently by IOM, UNHCR and MSF ", adds Michael Neuman.
Between Paris and Tripoli, a brutal diplomatic escalation
To carry out the counter-offensive, the militias linked to the GNA have, as images suggest, diverted from their use the ships that Italy delivered last year to Libya to patrol at sea. The Italian parliament voted in during the summer of 2018 the delivery of ten zodiac patrol boats and two ships for the Libyan coastguard.
In its edition of April 20, the Italian daily Avvenire reports that these were equipped with machine guns fixed on turrets by the soldiers of Tripolitania. The Libyan interior minister confirmed, according to the daily, that the coastguard was forced to stop the interception of migrants at sea to protect the population and the Tripolitania region, abandoning any rescue operation, while there is no more, except very occasionally, boats of NGOs that intervene off the coast of Libya.
Deliveries, for the time being, maintained
France can not avoid this risk of diversion, say the NGOs. Especially since the boats of the range Rafale to be delivered are, as its manufacturer Sillinger indicates it, "for mainly military use". "Why did France choose military ships, delivered without weapons of course, but on which machine-guns can be installed? " questions NGO lawyer Lionel Crusoe. "The current context could have prompted the government to suspend deliveries," believes there.
A source close to the case considers normal that they are military boats since they are intended for the Libyan Navy, and ensures that no agreement could be concluded if it was not compatible with the UN embargo and the European and international commitments of France. "France is reproached for supporting Marshal Haftar's camp, and when it comes to the aid of the Western authorities, to a failed state, it is also reproached. Should we sit back? " query this source. According to her, the first two boats should not be delivered before June, the security context will be analyzed in due time.