A group of international lawyers, led by Juan Branco, a former International Criminal Court jurist, and Omer Shatz, an international law lecturer at the Sciences Po university in Paris, is preparing the 245-pages of accusations against EU institutions and Member States. The allegation of “crimes against humanity” draws partially on internal papers from Frontex, the EU organisation charged with protecting the EU’s external borders, which, the lawyers say, warned that moving away from the successful Italian rescue policy of Mare Nostrum could result in a “higher number of fatalities”. It is claimed that the evidence in the dossier establishes criminal liability within the jurisdiction of the ICC for “causing the death of thousands of human beings per year, the refoulement of tens of thousands migrants attempting to flee Libya and the subsequent commission of murder, deportation, imprisonment, enslavement, torture, rape, persecution and other inhuman acts against them”. More specifically the report demands that EU Member States which played a prominent role in the refugee crisis, namely Italy, Germany and France, be prosecuted for the deaths of thousands of migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean fleeing Libya. The ICC is the 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.
While not wishing to pre-judge any decision by the Court, SOLIDAR welcomes this action because it could help bring clarity regarding events that have thus far not been made entirely clear and may have been a violation of the law, endangering the lives and the safety of many people. We therefore ask that the EU and those Member States that are responsible for these unclear acts assume their responsibilities and work together to ensure the safety of all migrants, respect for fundamental rights and the protection of international obligations. The EU should stop applying a security-oriented approach to development and migration issues. Such policies only exacerbate the arrest and detention of migrants in Libya and increase exposure to severe human rights abuses - while giving more space to human traffickers and smugglers. We also ask for urgent cooperation between Member States and EU Institutions in order to find a swift solution to end the systemic impasse in the management of the migration issue.