A group of lawyers are asking the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the European Union for crimes against humanity, arguing that the bloc’s policies are responsible for thousands of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean.
Although ICC prosecutors are already gathering evidence about crimes against refugees in Libya, the document goes a step further by arguing that the EU and member states are also largely to blame for migrant deaths on land and at sea.
In a 243-page document that was shared with international news outlets, the lawyers outlined several EU actions to deter migration which they argue have violated human rights, including:
- The start of the Triton operation in the Mediterranean in 2014, which scaled back sea rescues and created large zones off the Libyan coast without any rescue capacities.
- The persecution of NGO sea rescue groups by Italy and other member states.
- Statements from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and others that allegedly show EU leaders knew of the risks.
- The policy of returning some 40,000 migrants back to militia-controlled camps in Libya “where atrocious crimes are committed.”
- Funding and training Libya’s coast guard, as well as providing concrete data on the locations of refugee boats to ensure the Libyan force would pick up as many refugees as possible.
Lawyers behind the ICC request said the details provided in the report will leave the court with no choice but to take on the case against the EU.
The document particularly condemned the EU’s Triton operation in the Mediterranean, saying that the policy prompted the “most lethal and organized attack against civilian population the ICC had jurisdiction over in its entire history,” The Guardian quoted the document as saying.