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EU responsibility for Libyan migrant deaths ‘established beyond doubt,’ lawyers say

EU responsibility for Libyan migrant deaths ‘established beyond doubt,’ lawyers say
Human rights lawyers suing the European Union over Libyan migrant drownings in the Mediterranean believe their legal case is “extremely strong” and the facts proving the bloc’s responsibility are “established beyond any doubt.”

In a 243-page submission to the International Criminal Court (ICC) this week, the group of lawyers asked for an investigation into the EU and the actions it took to deter migrants from Libya, which, they claim, violated their human rights.

EU officials showed “a clear consciousness and willingness” to let many migrants die, former ICC lawyer and co-author of the report Juan Branco told RT. From a legal standpoint, he said, the case is strong but, from a political standpoint, “it depends on the office of the prosecutor and its willingness to investigate its main supporter.”

The submission to the ICC in particular blames the EU’s decision in 2014 to scale back its rescue operations as a major reason for the deaths, as well as actions taken by member states against sea rescue organizations.

Branco said the lawyers had always made the most “conservative evaluations” of the number of deaths in the Mediterranean, estimating that the numbers reached 14,000.

It’s not merely that the EU “didn't do everything they could,” it’s that they “did everything they could not to do what they should,” co-author Omar Shatz told RT.

EU officials proudly declared the migrant crisis over earlier this year, after a near 90 percent drop in arrivals via the Mediterranean in 2018 – but that does not mean there was an equal drop in departures for Europe, Shatz said. In fact, many of those people are intercepted by the Libyan coastguard, which has been accused of colluding with smugglers, and are held in “detention camps and torture houses,” he said.

Also on rt.com ‘They triggered this crisis’: Lawyers suing EU over deaths of Libyan migrants in Mediterranean

The EU, Shatz said, “provided boats, provided training, provided finance, provided legal support, provided legitimacy and, today even, they patrol together [with the coastguard] in the Mediterranean.”

The legal submission focuses specifically on the migrant crisis and EU response to it, rather than on the events which sparked it and the EU’s role in the US-led NATO bombing of Libya in 2011. The “humanitarian intervention” led to widespread destruction in the once-rich African country and left it a breeding ground for terrorists, smugglers and other criminals.

There is already an ICC investigation, ongoing since 2011, into crimes against migrants within Libya. Branco and Shatz told RT this investigation could simply be widened to investigate EU officials who “systematically and widespreadly attacked a civilian population.”

“We only ask [ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda] to broaden the perspective and to go after the most responsible actors, which are the EU agents and officials that are orchestrating this policy, that designed it, that established it, to achieve their own political goals to stem migration to Europe.”

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