Deliberate drowning of migrants in Mediterranean was “mass murder”

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Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The alleged deliberate drowning of between 300 and 500 migrants in the Mediterranean sea last week was a criminal act that must not go unpunished, according to the UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

He says Egypt, from where the ill-fated boat originated, and other North African and European states must make every effort to bring to justice the people smugglers responsible for the deaths.

High Commissioner Zeid says the impunity surrounding crimes committed by people smugglers must be brought to an end , but at the same time urges States to do more to address the root causes driving people to make such dangerous journey.

He adds that the rights of the victims should not be ignored merely because they were foreigners and that the crime took place on the high seas.

Rupert Colville is the spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office.

"The High Commissioner says the callous act of deliberately ramming a boat full of hundreds of defenseless people is a crime that must not go unpunished. If the survivors' accounts are indeed true – and they appear all too credible – we are looking at what amounts to mass murder in the Mediterranean. It is the duty of States to investigate such atrocious crimes, bring the perpetrators to justice, and even more importantly to do more to prevent them from happening in the first place. All the countries in the Mediterranean must make a concerted effort to clamp down on the smugglers who are exploiting one of the most vulnerable groups on the planet and endangering their lives, virtually on a daily basis, purely for financial gain." 

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has also made a similar appeal, adding that the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime already provides States with the necessary tools for the prosecution of people smugglers.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 1.47″

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