Italy: Court of Auditors should investigate use of public funds in Libyan detention centres, say ASGI

The Italian legal organisation ASGI (Associazione Studi Giuridici sull'Immigrazione) has called on the Italian Court of Auditors to investigate the use of public funds for detention centres in Libyan, noting in a press release that Italian NGOs appear to have carried out "a series of actions pursuing the benefit not of the detainees but of the detention facilities".

Press release published by ASGI on 27 January 2021.

ASGI asks the Italian Court of Auditors for an investigation into the use of public funds in detention centres in Libya

ASGI submitted a complaint to the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Auditors in Rome, pointing out several critical issues concerning the activities carried out by some Italian NGOs in Libya with funds from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS).

The complaint is based on the report “A Critical Analysis of Government-funded Projects by Italian NGOs in Libyan Detention Centres”, published on 15 July 2020, in which ASGI analyses a series of documents obtained from FOI requests to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and AICS. The complaint brings to the attention of the Court of Auditors numerous critical aspects in the design and implementation of activities in detention centres in Libya, some of which have already been highlighted in the report. 

ASGI notes that in some centres Italian NGOs seem to have carried out a series of actions pursuing the benefit not of the detainees but of the detention facilities, with activities aimed at preserving their solidity and efficiency: as a consequence, the interventions could have contributed to strengthen the capacity of the centre to host, also in the future, new prisoners in conditions that are hopelessly inhuman. Moreover, although Libyan centres are universally recognised as places of torture and denial of human dignity, the Italian government has not made the implementation of the activities conditional on any commitment by the Tripoli authorities to sustainably improve the detainees’ conditions.

In the complaint ASGI highlights how the implementation of emergency actions in favour of individuals detained in inhuman conditions at the behest of a foreign government does not seem to fall within the scope of promoting “cooperation and development” as provided for by the Statute of AICS.

The complaint also brings to the attention of the Court of Auditors ASGI’s doubts about the actual destination of the goods and services provided, also in light of the Ministry’s ban on Italian personnel travelling to Libya. The management of most of the official centres by militias, and the approximate financial reports by some NGOs, do not seem to have led AICS to exercise strict control over the expenditure of public money or the activities de facto carried out by Libyan implementing partners in the field.

In its complaint, ASGI therefore asks the Court of Auditors to investigate whether the conduct of AICS is in line with its statutory purposes and its obligations to ensure the proper use of public money, ascertaining the possible responsibilities of the Agency in terms of possible damage both to the budget and to the image of the Italian government.


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