By Libya Herald reporters.
Tunis, 26 September 2016:
The EU plan to train up to 100 Libyan coast guards is reportedly on hold because the Presidency Council has still to choose any candidates.
Diplomats close to the project to enable the Libyan navy to better tackle migrant traffickers told AFP the delay had arisen over concerns about the vetting of potential trainees.
The coast guard course, part of the European Naval Forces’ Operation Sophia was approved in May and the first recruits were due to start training in Italy by October.
At the time EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said that the courses had been requested by PC chairman Faiez Serraj as a matter of urgency. Since then, according to AFP’s sources, no trainee list has been put forward. All candidates would need security vetting which could take up to a month. Thus there is now no way the programme can start before the end of October at the earliest.
Outside states are cautious about offering training. While the Italians enforced strict selection for the army personnel trained by their Alpine regiments in 2013 and the Turks quickly sent home a significant portion of their Libyan police training recruits, the British army had a disastrous experience.
Though there had been a careful choice of suitable candidates for six months’ basic training in the UK, according to a senior army officer, at the last minute the 300-strong draft was filled with un-vetted individuals.
An early breakdown in discipline saw a small batch sent home before the entire contingent was repatriated following a rape in the local town, for which two of the men were subsequently jailed.
It is unclear why the PC has not yet produced the personnel it wants trained. During Ali Zeidan’s premiership, the EUBAM mission had a programme organised for frontier security and border guards. The courses never began because the then-government failed to put forward candidates.
In 2013 EUBAM did however provide a week’s training for the coast guard in and around Tripoli harbour.