More than 40,000 people have been intercepted in the Mediterranean and taken to detention camps and torture houses under a European migration policy that is responsible for crimes against humanity, according to a legal document asking the International Criminal Court to take the case Monday.
The request filed with the ICC alleges that European Union officials are knowingly responsible for migrant deaths on land and at sea, as well as culpable for rapes and torture of migrants committed by members of the Libyan coast guard, which is funded and trained at the expense of European taxpayers. The filing names no specific EU officials but cites an ongoing ICC investigation into the fate of migrants in Libya .
“We leave it to the prosecutor, if he dares, if she dares, to go into the structures of power and to investigate at the heart of Brussels, of Paris, of Berlin and Rome and to see by searching in the archives of the meetings of the negotiations who was really behind the scenes trying to push for these policies that triggered the death of more than 14,000 people,” said Juan Branco, a lawyer who co-wrote the report and shared it with The Associated Press. He was referring to the deaths and disappearances at sea, which come on top of the interceptions by the Libyan forces.
The ICC is a court of last resort that handles cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide when other countries are unwilling or unable to prosecute. It is up to the prosecutor, who receives many such requests, to decide whether to investigate and ultimately bring a case.
The first crime, according to the document, was the decision to end the Mare Nostrum rescue operation near the end of 2014. In one year, the operation rescued 150,810 migrants in the Mediterranean as hundreds of thousands crossed the sea. [See also] As a result, deaths in the Mediterranean then soared.
Omer Shatz, the other lead lawyer responsible for the document, said internal EU documents showed officials hoped that ending Mare Nostum would create a deterrent effect. “Deterrent effect – what does it mean? It means sacrifice the lives of some, in this case of many, to change the behavior of others, to discourage others from doing the same thing.”