EU’s planned war on smugglers will go far beyond maritime-only interventions

Steve PeersAccording to Steve Peers, Professor of EU Law, University of Essex, EU’s planned war on smugglers goes far beyond a « maritime-only operation ». Indeed military planners expect actions on the ground with a high risk of loss of life of smugglers, military personnel and migrants. Steve Peers advise the EU decision makers to openly discuss about it. Instead these possibilities are « shrugged off ». Steve Peers also regrets that in December 2014 the EU’s Court of Justice ruled that the European Court of Human Rights could not have jurisdiction over EU military operations if the EU acceded to the European Court.

There is no indication from the document that the military planners have thought through the impact of this large-scale operation upon the EU’s laudable intention to contribute to a peace deal in Libya, given the opposition of the local authorities to this plan. There is also no thought of the impact on the region, or of the possibility of radicalisation if there are deaths of innocents. There is no detailed assessment of what to do with any migrants, besides a recognition that there is ‘systematic detention of refugees and asylum seekers inside’ Libya. Presumably the EU cannot seriously suggest that Libya is a safe country currently which to return refugees, but this is not ruled out as such. The details of what to do with smugglers is not worked out either: since it might be unsafe to return them to Libya, they might have to be brought to the EU for prosecution. And on a purely legal note: this document shows, with the greatest possible respect, how utterly wrong the EU’s Court of Justice was to rule in December that the European Court of Human Rights should not have jurisdiction over EU military operations if the EU acceded to the ECHR: a manifest case of judicial egos taking precedence over the obvious need for effective protection of human rights.

Source:
Steve Peers, the EU War on Smugglers
State Watch Analysis Background Note, 12 May 2015

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