The International Criminal Court (ICC) has hinted that it was looking at the feasibility of opening a formal probe into migrant-related crimes in Libya.
The ICC prosecutor told the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Monday that her office was presently sifting through available data “related to serious and widespread crimes allegedly committed against migrants attempting to transit through Libya.”
“I take this opportunity before the council to declare that my office is carefully examining the feasibility of opening an investigation into migrant-related crimes in Libya should the court’s jurisdictional requirements be met,” Bensouda is quoted to have said.
I take this opportunity before the council to declare that my office is carefully examining the feasibility of opening an investigation into migrant-related crimes in Libya should the court's jurisdictional requirements be met.
The north African country is one of the biggest gateways for persons attempting to reach Europe by sea. Most humanitarian organizations have expressed alarm at the inhumane detention of thousands of vulnerable migrants in Libya.
Most migrants from sub-Saharan African region also go through the desert to reach Libya en route to Europe.
The ICC had been tasked by the UNSC six years ago to investigate crimes committed since the start of the uprising that toppled the Muammar Gaddafi regime. Libya is currently split along two rival governments with Islamic State insurgents holding the town of Sirte.
UN, IOM migration numbers related issues
The United Nations migration agency said more than 1,000 migrants have been reported dead or missing in the Mediterranean this year, while an unknown number perish in the desert.
According to the International Organization for Migration, 20,000 migrants are held by criminal gangs in irregular detention centers in Libya and growing numbers of migrants are traded in what they call slave markets before being held for ransom, forced labor or sexual exploitation.
The International Criminal Court, which opened in 2002, has international jurisdiction to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in member states or if a situation is referred by the U.N. Security Council.