On Monday, 3 June 2019, a group of international lawyers submitted a legal document to the International Criminal Court (ICC), in which they call for an open investigation of the European Union migration policies that, according to the lawyers, contributed to the deaths of thousands of migrants and refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. This punitive action is directed against the EU and its member states, which played important role in migration pushback, particularly Italy, Germany and France.
The authors of the 245-page document condemn the EU migration policies which, they state, have been designed in a way that comes at the cost migrants’ life. Particular attention is given to cooperation between the EU and the Libyan coastguard through which migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea are being sent back to Libyan detention centres, where they face systematic human rights abuses. Another accusation is directed against the decision to stop the rescue operations of Mare Nostrum in 2014. Juan Branco, one of the leading authors of the legal initiative, said: “We leave it to the prosecutor, if he dares, if she dares, to go into the structures of power and to investigate at the heart of Brussels, of Paris, of Berlin and Rome and to see by searching in the archives of the meetings of the negotiations who was really behind the scenes trying to push for these policies that triggered the death of more than 14,000 people”.
Recently, the EU and several member states have been facing other legal challenges, for example a legal action issued by the Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans, a Netherlands-based organization, in which the EU has been summoned to stop financing a € 20 million road project in Eritrea for which forced labour is be used. In the UK, the Department for International Development (DFID) is being sued for its support to Libya detention centres by an Ethiopian asylum seeker and Amnesty International brought a legal action against France in order to stop the donation of boats to the Libyan Navy and the coast guard. Academics have also analysed that the EU’s pushback on migration contravenes Article 18 of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights, which outlines the right to asylum.