Italy’s Democratic Party to Vote Against Refinancing Libyan Coast Guard

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The Secretary-General of the Italian Democratic Party, Enrico Letta announced that his party will not vote in favour of refinancing the Libyan Coast Guard.

Italy’s Foreign and Defense Committees in the House of Representatives are due to vote on the final approval of international missions.

“Last year we voted in favour of refinancing with a commitment to change course. But this commitment was not fulfilled” Letta tweeted on Wednesday.

In July 2021, Italian lawmakers approved funding to train the Libyan Coast Guard despite reports of violations against migrants.

The training program is under an umbrella of Italian military missions abroad, which members of the Italian Parliament’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, discussed ahead of the vote.

Amnesty International called on European nations to suspend their cooperation with Libya on migration and border control.

From 2017 to July 2021, Rome and Brussels have spent about €1.1 billion euros to finance the Libyan Coast Guard, and other entities in the North African country.

In traffickers’ camps, as well as official detention centers, thousands of migrants are tortured for extortion purposes. Women often suffer sexual violence, leading to death from trauma. Several underage girls have claimed they had been raped in a prison run by the Ministry of the Interior in Tripoli.

It is noteworthy that Italy and Europe are facing sharp criticism for their support of the Libyan Coast Guard.

A confidential EU military report in January called for continuing a controversial program to train and equip Libya’s Coast Guard and navy.

The report offered a rare look at Europe’s determination to support Libya in the interception and return of tens of thousands of men, women, and children to Libya, where they face insufferable abuse, according to the Associated Press.

Compiled by Italian navy Rear Adm. Stefano Turchetto, Head of the EU arms embargo surveillance mission (Operation IRINI) the report acknowledges the “excessive use of force” by Libyan authorities, adding that EU training is “no longer fully followed.”

The report adds that “the political stalemate” in Libya has hindered Europe’s training program. As well as adding that the country’s internal divisions make it difficult to obtain political support for enforcing “proper behavioural standards … compliant with human rights, especially when dealing with irregular migrants.”