Legal investigation into delivery of Dutch patrol vessels to Libya

Peace organisations PAX and Stop Wapenhandel and the Dutch Section of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM) are investigating legal steps in relation to the delivery of Dutch patrol vessels to Libya. In 2016, one of those ships was used in a violent action against a boat carrying refugees, during which at least four people died.

In 2012 and 2013, Damen Shipyards, a Dutch shipbuilder, delivered eight patrol vessels to the Libyan navy. The Dutch government allowed these vessels to be transported without an arms trade license, because they supposedly did not have military characteristics. In 2014, Damen wanted to arm the ships nonetheless, but it did not obtain permission from the government to do so. This decision was in line with the UN arms embargo that has been in place for Libya since 2011 because of the ongoing civil war.

Video footage has now shown that at least one of the vessels delivered by Damen has been armed after all, and that this has been used with deadly consequences. The peace and human rights organisations are investigating what the responsibilities of the Dutch government and Damen are in this regard, and are considering a possible legal case.

PAX, Stop Wapenhandel and the NJCM have instigated legal cases before about arms trade export to Egypt. The premise of these cases was the human rights procedure that the Dutch government has to follow when handing out licenses for arms trade exports. Back then, the organisations were of the opinion that the procedure in those instances had not been carried out up to standards. This is also doubted by the organisations in relation to the delivery to Libya.