Robert Abela and Joseph Muscat accused of crimes against humanity at ICC

The ECCHR and Sea-Watch have filed an International Criminal Court complaint calling for Prime Minister Robert Abela and his predecessor Joseph Muscat to be investigated for ‘individual criminal responsibility’ over ‘multiple severe deprivations of liberty with interceptions at sea between 2018 and 2021’


Current Prime Minister Robert Abela and his predecessor Joseph Muscat have been accused of crimes against humanity in a criminal complaint submitted to the International Criminal Court by the Germany-based European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, which is asking for them to be investigated over their “individual criminal responsibility” for the pushbacks of irregular migrants to Libya and the consequences of those pushbacks

Also accused are Italy’s current and former interior ministers Matteo Piantedosi and Matteo Salvini, the former High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, the former executive director of European border agency Frontex Fabrice Leggeri, as well as both the Maltese and Italian and Rescue Coordination Centres.

They have been individually accused before the International Criminal Court of committing several “crimes against humanity in the form of the severe deprivation of physical liberty” between 2018 and 2021 by having systematically intercepted boats in the central Mediterranean and sending would-be asylum seekers back to detention in Libya.

The ECCHR announced on Wednesday that it had, with the support of German humanitarian rescue NGO Sea-Watch, filed a Communication to the International Criminal Court “concerning the commission of crimes against humanity against migrants and refugees who have been intercepted at sea and systematically returned to and detained in Libya”.

The organisations are calling on the ICC to investigate the individual criminal responsibility of the high-ranking officials of EU member states (the former and current Maltese Prime Ministers and the former and current Italian home affairs ministers) and EU agencies regarding “multiple severe deprivations of liberty that began with interceptions at sea between 2018 and 2021”.

They make specific note of how since 2016, EU member states and EU agencies have increased their capacity-building and operational support for the so-called Libyan Coast Guard by providing funding, patrol boats, equipment and training, as well as by directly participating in specific interceptions through, for instance, providing information on the location of boats in distress.

“Such support and collaboration tend to demonstrate the decisive role that high-ranking EU officials play in the deprivation of liberty of migrants and refugees fleeing Libya,” they said on Wednesday.

The complaint filed at The Hague is based on first-hand evidence obtained through Sea-Watch and other sea rescue and civil society organisations as well as investigative journalists.

It analyses 12 specific incidents of deprivation of liberty at sea, highlighting the individual responsibility of high-ranking perpetrators.

“Interceptions at sea and subsequent returns of migrants and refugees to Libya are not Search and Rescue missions that save lives,” they argue in the complaint.

Pushbacks to Libya ‘constitute crimes against humanity’

The ECCHR contends in its arguments to The Hague “that these operations constitute crimes against humanity in the form of the severe deprivation of physical liberty as they are part of a widespread system of exploitation, which targets such vulnerable groups in Libya.

“The ICC must therefore investigate the collaboration between these European and Libyan actors and bring those responsible to justice.”

The ICC will hear in the complaint that the systematic exploitation and abuse of migrants and refugees have been pervasive in Libya since at least 2011, and have included acts of arbitrary detention, torture, murder, persecution, sexual violence, as well as enslavement.

Such abuses may amount to crimes against humanity, as ECCHR, together with FIDH and LFJL, argued in another complaint in 2021.

Malta and Italy ‘strengthened collaboration with Libya despite knowledge of crimes’

“Despite knowledge of those crimes,” the ECCHR said on Wednesday, “officials of EU agencies as well as of Italy and Malta have strengthened their collaboration with Libya to prevent refugees and migrants from fleeing Libya by sea.

“The current system of EU support for the capacities and operations of the so-called Libyan Coast Guard along the Central Mediterranean route is not saving anyone’s life.

The evidence provided in the Communication suggests that these operations may amount to severe deprivations of liberty as crimes against humanity,” said Andreas Schueller, Program Director for International Crimes and Accountability at ECCHR.

“The inhumane treatment and detention conditions of migrants and refugees in Libya have been well-known for many years. The country is not a safe place for migrants and refugees. Under international maritime law, people rescued at sea must be disembarked in a place of safety. No one should be returned to Libya after being rescued at sea.”

The ECCHR and Sea-Watch are demanding:

  • A thorough investigation by the ICC of the alleged crimes against humanity committed against migrants and refugees at sea and subsequently in Libya, including those perpetrated by high-ranking officials of EU member states and EU agencies;
  • An immediate end to any policy, funding or programme by the EU and its member states which aims to externalise European borders by containing migrants in Libya;
  • A civilian, non-military, state-financed and -coordinated, area-wide European Search and Rescue (SAR) operation that functions in accordance with maritime and human rights law across the Mediterranean, and that fulfils the duty to render assistance to people and disembark them in a safe place.

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1 month ago

This is why Abela pushed the ABORTION Law , to cover this .
Muscat and Abela are in the same boat as the worlds’ worst dictators, with Putin in the queue. Accused of Crimes Against Humanity.
This should make the news on TVM .

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