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Friday, January 27, 2023

European Politicians Accused of Working with the Libyan Coastguard to Push Back Refugees

These politicians also include the former head of the EU's foreign policy, Federica Mogherini

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LIBYA: High-profile European politicians have been accused of conspiring with Libya’s coastguard to forcibly turn away refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.

These politicians include the former head of the EU’s foreign policy, Federica Mogherini, the current and former interior ministers of Italy, and the current and former prime ministers of Malta.

The accusation was made in a criminal complaint filed with the International Criminal Court.

The European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), a German NGO, filed a criminal complaint against the politicians at The Hague, accusing them of committing several “crimes against humanity in the form of the severe deprivation of physical liberty” between 2018 and 2021 by routinely intercepting boats in the Mediterranean and returning refugees to detention in Libya.

The opposition started in February 2017 when the Italian government made a deal with Libya in which it offered to finance, outfit, and train the Libyan coastguard to stop and bring boats back to a nation where aid organisations claimed they were subjected to abuse and torture. The European Council gave the agreement its approval the following day.

One of those cited in the complaint as a co-conspirator in the push-back scam is Marco Minniti, who was the interior minister of Italy at the time of the transaction.

Along with Matteo Piantedosi, the current interior minister, and Matteo Salvini, the far-right politician who served as interior minister from 2018 to 2019, who was also identified as a co-conspirator,

The agreement was successful in curbing migration, as seen by the 81% drop in arrivals on southern Italian coasts between the first half of 2018 and the corresponding period in 2017.

Both earlier this month and for another two years in 2020, the measure was extended. Italy spends €13 million a year as a result of the agreement.

The German human rights organisation has provided evidence supporting its complaint that details 12 instances of refugee boats being stopped in the Mediterranean, including intercepted radio calls and aerial photographs that show cooperation between European authorities and Libyan coastguards.

When contacted, a Salvini official declined to comment. A representative for Piantedosi stated that because he had not yet read the legal complaint, he was unable to comment.

The list also includes Malta’s current prime minister, Robert Abela, his predecessor, Joseph Muscat, Federica Mogherini, a former high representative of the union for international relations and security policy, and Fabrice Leggeri, a former executive director of the European border agency Frontex.

The mentioned politicians and officials may theoretically be made suspects in a criminal trial and required to appear before the main court of the United Nations if The Hague were to accept the complaint.

Also Read: United Kingdom Prime Minister Liz Truss Apologizes for Any Errors

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