Brussels, 10 May:
The European Union has authorised the deployment of private security personnel . . .[restrict]in Libya without first seeking the consent of the Libyan authorities.
The European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s foreign policy arm headed by Catherine Ashton, has signed a €10-million contract covering bodyguards and building security for the EU’s Tripoli and Benghazi delegations. As it stands, the contract will run for a period of four years, beginning on 1 June.
EEAS officials have also signed an end-user agreement for the company to import assault rifles and 9mm pistols for its work.
EEAS spokesman Michael Mann and G4S spokesman Adam Mynott have both confirmed that the company has no NTC observation. They have said that such permission was not required because the relevant legal framework in which to seek authorisation does not exist, and will not until after the elections in June.
“From the information we gathered in Libya, mainly through our delegation, there is no condition to get a ‘non-objection’ before granting a contract to a company. There is no law in Libya which regulates the operation of foreign security service companies,” Mann said. “The current regime is not issuing non-objection documents,” Mynott added.
However, according to the NTC’s ambassador to the EU, Mohamed Farhat, this is not the case.
“The Libyan government is the one who says Yes or No if there is to be any security company to provide security services … We are a sovereign state and we say Yes or No,” he said.
Farhat has claimed that the EEAS approached him last month to arrange a G4S permit, noting that the authorities in Tripoli are still examining the request.
The EEAS-G4S line is also at odds with the EU’s own tender documents, which state: “The winning tenderer must provide before signature of the specific contract the evidence that either he or his local partner is duly registered and has a licence to operate as security provider in Libya.”
Mann has nonetheless defended the decision, arguing that EU facilities and staff need proper protection and that G4S is the best company for the task.