Human rights activists have submitted a file of evidence to the International Criminal Court, requesting an investigation into the abuse of Libyan immigrants, which they believe “may constitute a crime against humanity.”
The document is classified and is the latest attempt by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate the treatment of migrants trying to travel dangerously across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe on a smuggled boat.
In 2019, lawyers called on the International Criminal Court to investigate the EU’s immigration policy, claiming that EU officials should knowingly be responsible for the deaths of immigrants by land and sea, and were responsible for the rape and torture of immigrants by members of the Libyan Coast Guard. Responsibilities, funding and training costs are borne by European taxpayers.
A document sent to the International Criminal Court on Tuesday urged prosecutors to investigate crimes committed by “armed groups, militias and Libyan state actors,” including “arbitrary detention, torture, murder, persecution, sexual violence and slavery.” It lists 19 potential suspects including militia leaders.
Dorine Llanta of the International Federation of Human Rights said: “The extreme scale, systemicity, and severity of the abuses suffered by Libyan immigrants and refugees has triggered the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.” “We are open to reliable open source information. The analysis of testimony from survivors clearly shows that many of these abuses may constitute crimes against humanity.”
The human rights organization that sent the document to the International Criminal Court said in a statement that the document was based on interviews with 14 survivors currently safe outside Libya and reports from the United Nations and other organizations. It said that Libyan immigrants face a “widespread and systematic continuous cycle of abuse”.
They said that the exploitation of immigrants, including “enslavement, extortion and torture, has become an important source of income for the conflict economy in Libya”.
Ten years ago, when former dictator Moammar Gadhafi violently suppressed dissidents, the International Criminal Court launched an investigation into Libya. The long-term strongman was listed as one of the suspects by the court, but was captured and killed by rebels before The Hague was brought to justice.
The court also filed charges against Gaddafi’s son Saif Islam, allegations related to his role in the 2011 crackdown. He has never been sent to court, and earlier this month he announced his candidacy for next month’s national presidential election.
The Global Court does not have its own police force to arrest suspects, but relies on the cooperation of various countries. Libya is not one of the 123 member states of The Hague Court. The Hague Court opened an investigation in the country at the request of the UN Security Council.
The International Criminal Court is a court of final appeal, which accepts cases where countries are unwilling or unable to prosecute crimes.
Chantal Meloni, senior legal counsel of the European Center for Constitution and Human Rights, said: “We firmly believe that only the International Criminal Court can solve the complexity of the criminal system designed to exploit the human suffering of Libyan migrants and refugees.”
She called on the chief prosecutor of the court Karim Khan to “finally take the necessary measures to bring the perpetrators to justice.”