Two renowned lawyers ask the International Criminal Court in The Hague to prosecute the European Union and its Member States Italy, France and Germany.
They accuse the EU of crimes against humanity for blaming the deaths of more than 12,000 migrants on the Mediterranean route between Libya and Europe.
According to the British newspaper The Guardian, the report that lawyers Juan Branco and Omer Shatz file with the public prosecutor of the Criminal Court has no fewer than 245 pages.
It calls for a condemnation of European migration policy after 2014, which “deliberately sacrificed the lives of migrants who have run into problems at sea, only to deter others who are in the same situation from seeking safe homes in Europe”.
European policy makers would be responsible for organizing “the world’s most dangerous migration route”.
In 2014, the Italian government stopped its search and rescue operation Mare Nostrum in the Mediterranean.
It was followed by EU operation Triton, but it was only intended to help guard European external borders.
Migrants who were taken out of the water all had to be brought to Italy.
While 150,810 migrants were rescued in a 364-day period under Mare Nostrum, thousands of migrants died in the Mediterranean over the past five years, lawyers Branco and Shatz emphasize.
Moreover, according to them, European politicians were well aware that the migrants who were sent back to Libya risked “ending up in detention centers reminiscent of concentration camps and where terrible crimes are committed”.
730,000 people saved
A Commission spokeswoman refused to comment on the proceedings at the International Criminal Court on Monday afternoon because it has not yet been formally launched.
Natasha Bertaud emphasized that there should be no doubt about the priority the EU gives to saving lives at sea.
“Since 2015, four European operations have contributed to the rescue of nearly 730,000 people, while the number of deaths (at sea, ed.) has fallen sharply compared to the previous years.”
According to her, it is not European policy that causes tragedies such as those in the Mediterranean, “but the cruel and dangerous business model of traffickers and traffickers who exploit human suffering and risk lives.”
Lawyer Juan Branco used to work for the International Criminal Court and for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Omer Shatz is an Israeli lawyer who works for the NGO Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and teaches at the Sciences Po University in Paris.