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NGO accuses Italian, Maltese politicians of crimes against humanity on migrants

Rome, Italy

A German charity said on Wednesday it had reported senior European politicians including Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity over their treatment of migrants.

Those accused by the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights include Maltese Premier Robert Abela and Salvini, who is head of Italy’s far-right League party as well as being Deputy Prime Minister and infrastructure minister.

Mediterranean Sea rescued migrants

 Migrants look on as they stay on the rescue ship ‘Geo Barents’, after Italy allowed the disembarkation of children and sick people, in the port of Catania, Italy, on 7th November. PICTURE: Reuters/Antonio Parrinello/File photo.

The complaint by the ECCHR, with the support of the NGO Sea-Watch, focused on the policy of intercepting refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean and sending them back to often inhuman conditions in Libyan detention centres.

Responding to the move, Salvini said on Facebook: “Not a word against the smugglers of men and women, but instead the NGOs report me. I will continue with my head held high.”

There was no immediate comment on the matter from the Maltese Prime Minister’s office.

Since 2016, EU agencies and member states have signed deals offering economic aid and technical support to Libya in return for the assistance of its coastguard in curbing crossings.

The ECCHR said the politicians, who also included the EU’s former foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and former Italian interior minister Marco Minniti, were indirectly responsible for the resulting abuses suffered by the migrants.

“Despite knowledge of those crimes, 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 ECCHR said. 

The officials were responsible for “severe deprivations of liberty that began with interceptions at sea between 2018 and 2021”, the NGO based in Berlin said.


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