International Report Filed with the ICC Accuses European Union of Crimes Against Humanity in the Libya Situation

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Friday, June 7, 2019
Michael Plachta
On June 3, 2019, a group of international lawyers submitted a report to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) calling for the European Union (EU) and some of its Member States to face prosecution for enacting migration policies “intended to sacrifice the lives of migrants in distress at sea.” This document is a result of a two-year pro-bono clinical project, comprised of a group of lawyers and a dozen students. The two main authors of the submission are Juan Branco, who formerly worked at the ICC as well as at France’s foreign affairs ministry, and Omer Shatz, an Israeli lawyer who teaches at Sciences Po University in Paris. The lawyers assessed European migration policies in the Mediterranean over recent years, paying particular attention to the end of Italy’s military-humanitarian rescue operation Mare Nostrum in 2014 and the subsequent shift to policies focused on deterrence. Their submission claims that this shift toward deterring migrants from crossing the Mediterranean to reach the EU resulted in: (i) the deaths by drowning of thousands of migrants, (ii) the refoulement of tens of thousands of migrants attempting to flee Libya, and (iii) complicity in the subsequent crimes of deportation, murder, imprisonment, enslavement, torture, rape, persecution and other inhuman acts, taking place in Libyan detention camps and torture houses.