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Legalbrief   |   your legal news hub Friday 29 May 2020

ICC asked to prosecute EU for migrant drownings

The EU and member states should be prosecuted for the deaths of thousands of migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean fleeing Libya, according to a detailed legal submission to the International Criminal Court (ICC). A report in The Guardian notes that the 245-page document calls for punitive action over the EU’s deterrence-based migration policy after 2014, which allegedly ‘intended to sacrifice the lives of migrants in distress at sea, with the sole objective of dissuading others in similar situations from seeking safe haven in Europe’. The two main authors of the submission are Juan Branco, who previously 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 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 from the successful Italian rescue policy of Mare Nostrum could result in a 'higher number of fatalities'. The switch to a new policy from 2014, known as Triton, is identified as a crucial moment ‘establishing undisputed mens rea for the alleged offences’. The Triton policy introduced the ‘most lethal and organised attack against civilian population the ICC had jurisdiction over in its entire history,’ the legal document asserts. The submission was handed in to the ICC, the report states.