The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) Wednesday filed a criminal complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the “atrocious crimes” of detaining and intercepting Libyan refugees and returning refugees to Libya. Some of the accused include high-ranking officials of EU Member States such as Italy and Malta and other EU agencies. The communication asserts that Libyan refugees were intercepted while in distress in the Mediterranean Sea and were returned and systematically detained in Libya. The ECCHR claimed that the interceptions and returns were not “sea rescue” operations but were crimes against humanity in the form of severe deprivation of physical liberty.
The ECCHR and Sea-Watch demand:
- A thorough investigation of the alleged crimes against humanity committed against the Libyan migrants and refugees. This includes the crimes perpetrated by the high-ranking EU officials and EU agencies;
- An immediate end to any policy, funding, or program by the EU that aim to externalize European borders by containing migrants in Libya; and
- A civilian, non-military operated search and rescue operation that works accordingly with maritime and human rights law and assists people to a safe place.
The ICC has been investigating the situation in Libya but has not yet opened a case for crimes specifically committed against Libyan refugees. The ECCHR called on the ICC to increase their efforts to take “long overdue” steps to end the cycle of abuse against Libyan migrants. They have called on the ICC to bring Libyan and European perpetrators to justice for their crimes against humanity.