The Swiss Embassy in Tripoli resumed its activities in mid-October 2011. It was important to re-open the representation in order to safeguard Switzerland’s interests in Libya and normalise relations with the country. In view of the top priority it attaches to the safety of its personnel, Switzerland engaged a private security company that was already active in Tripoli and familiar with the local situation for an initial period of three months.
Although the security situation in Libya has stabilised since the end of the hostilities between rebels and loyalists, the foreign representations are now confronted with a number of risks associated with tensions and conflicts between different militias and due to the widespread proliferation of firearms among the local population.
On 9 December 2011, the Federal Council decided to charge a detachment of the Swiss Armed Forces with the protection of the Embassy in Tripoli for an initial period of six months. The Armed Forces personneI will be armed but in plain clothes. The deployment is based on Art. 69, par. 2 of the Armed Forces Act (ArmA) and can be renewed depending on how the situation on the ground develops. The execution of the deployment and the assignment of responsibilities are governed by the Federal Ordinance on Troop Deployment for the Protection of Persons and Property Abroad (PPPAO). Parliament will make a decision regarding the deployment during its next session in compliance with relevant legislation which stipulates that the approval of the United Federal Assembly is required if a deployment exceeds three weeks.
The Dispatch to Parliament that was approved on 18 January 2012 describes the challenges the new Libyan authorities will have to address and the uncertainties linked to the process of transition. It also gives a broad outline of the deployment plan for the protection of the embassy. The principal task of the Swiss soldiers is to protect the embassy personnel and the building. They are also required to advise the mission on optimising protection measures.
This detachment is composed of members of the Special Forces Command of the Swiss Armed Forces, in this case Reconnaissance Detachment 10 and the Special Detachment of the Military Police.
The option of entrusting the protection of the embassy to specialists from the Swiss Armed Forces is a cost-effective measure since the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) already has the necessary personnel and materials for such a deployment. This DDPS has carried out this kind of mission before and it corresponds to the kind of service envisaged in the new report on security policy.
The deployment is expected to incur costs of some CHF 600,000 for a period of six months. These costs have been entered in the budget of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).
Head of Information FDFA
Tel: +41 79 763 84 10 or +41 31 322 31 53
Address for enquiries:
+41 (0)31 322 31 53