Tripoli court blocks Serraj’s migrant deal with Italy: effect unclear
By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 22 March 2017:
A Tripoli court has blocked any deal on migrants resulting from the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by Presidency Council (PC) chief Faiez Serraj and the Italians this February. It is however unclear what impact today’s ruling will have on the EU’s determination to try and stem the migrant tide in cooperation with the PC.
The case was brought by six individuals including former justice minster Salah Al-Marghani and lawyer Azza Maghur. Their petition did not simply deal with the controversial plans outlined in the memorandum, which included for the return of migrants to camps in Libya. They also disputed the ability of Serraj to make such a deal on behalf of the Government of National Accord (GNA). This is because according to the Libyan Political Agreement, until it is approved by the House of Representatives, the GNA along with the State Council, has no legal standing.
Today’s ruling by the Tripoli Appeals Court blocks any further negotiations. Yet the day after Serraj signed the MoU in Rome, the wider EU held an emergency summit on migration in Malta where it was agreed to give $215 million to help reinforce the Libyan coastguard and improve the widely-condemned conditions in existing migrant detention centres.
These decisions came ahead of the Spring migrant season, which in the event has so far seen migrant arrivals in Italy surge year on year by 4,000 to some 16,000.
At this week’s much-heralded Rome conference on migration, Serraj arrived with an €800 million shopping list which included patrol craft, vehicles and communications equipment. Yet remarkably, no final communiqué was issued after the Rome meeting and the Italian media appear to have been little interested in its outcome.
The Tripoli court had originally been due to deliver its finding on 8 March, which it delayed for a week and then held back again until today. No details have been given of any defence that the government may have mounted.