EU Accused of Covering up Process of Documenting Human Smuggling from Libya


The European Union (EU) provided micro-cameras to Libyan vessels to monitor interventions of the Libyan Coast Guard, but assures that these videos never arrived.

Videos with all the interventions of the Libyan Coast Guard were supposed to confirm operational capabilities and respect for human rights. Without those findings, the EU would no longer have financed the training of Libyan coastguards. Instead, “no video files were received from the EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia.”

About a month ago, Avvenire asked the EU Commission what happened to the video recordings.

“In the European External Action Service (EEAS) filing systems and in the document management databases”, it is now explained, “no documents corresponding to the request have been found”.

This statement contrasts with other official Brussels documents. It was 2018 when former EU Foreign Minister, Federica Mogherini, argued that “their professional competence has increased, but – she wrote in response to a British Member of European Parliament – it is not yet at a level of self-sufficiency”.

The delivery of the GoPro cameras was completed, Mogherini said again. However, “the lack of a reliable internet connection hinders the ability of the coast guard and the Libyan Navy to upload and share recorded material.” Within three years, assuming that was a credible explanation, it went from “lack of connection” to a starker “no video file received”.

The 2017 agreement, with which the EU Commission authorized the training of the coastguards in Tripoli, also provided the training of Libyan personnel in the use of these shooting systems. Originally it was an essential condition, to reassure the European Parliament regarding the vigilance that the EU offices would maintain over the Libyan maritime forces.

The images of the patrol boats collected in recent years by the media and NGOs do not allow us to confirm whether the micro cameras are really still on board. In any case, always replying to the question of 2018, the former High Representative of EU foreign policy assured that, “the cameras were installed onboard the patrol boats of the Bigliani class and the officers received dedicated training on the use of the material.” As for the videos, however, “the quality and number of videos provided are not yet sufficient to assess whether or not the mechanism is a reliable monitoring tool”.

According to a source from Avvenire, who knows the entire history of the complicated Europe-Rome-Tripoli relations and has access to inside information, it cannot be ruled out that the recordings have been protected as “restricted”, a “well-known trick to avoid ‘performance regardless of the content’.

At the very beginning of May, a Libyan delegation arrived in Italy, including the human trafficker Abd al-Rahman al-Milad, also known as al-Bija”, who is still on the black list of the United Nations, the EU and the United States State Department.

Al-Bija, after being released from prison for lack of evidence on charges of smuggling of people, oil and weapons, as well as being promoted to the rank of major, was given the task of managing the contract for the reconstruction of the naval academy for the cadets of the Tripoli Navy.

Several videos and photos, often re-launched by Al-Bija himself, portray him while he receives the honors from the military leaders.

Several local sources claim that the “444 Brigade” affiliated with the Ministry of Defence and the “Stability Support Apparatus”, affiliated with the Ministry of the Interior, are in conflict with each other.

A few steps from the port, as confirmed in recent weeks by judicial investigations in Malta and Sicily, tons of smuggled oil were seen while being diverted to the ports under the eyes of the supervisor of the harbor master’s office, Al-Bija.
The micro-cameras on patrol boats could also bear traces of these illegal operations. But in fact, “no video files have been received”.