Belgium: Complaint lodged at Brussels Tribunal of First Instance against the Belgian army following death of 63 migrants in the Mediterranean

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The complaint, raised by three survivors of the April 2011 tragedy that caused the deaths of 63 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, accuses the Belgian army, who were present in the area, of failing to respond to distress signals received from the migrants' boat. According to the press release of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), 72 people were left to drift at sea for 15 days, despite their calls for help being registered by the NATO coordination centre and direct contact with an airplane, helicopters and military vessels. The boat, which was headed for Italy, was uncontrollable, and eventually floated back to the Libyan coast. Complaints have also been lodged in Italy, France and Spain, and requests for information on military positions and actions have been submitted to the governments of the UK, the USA and Canada. A report entitled “Lives lost in the Mediterranean Sea: Who is responsible?” by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, published in April 2012, concluded that numerous opportunities to rescue those on board were lost and that vessels close to the boat violated their obligation to rescue people in distress.

Read the text of the complaint (in French only) on the FIDH website.

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