22 September 2014
High Commissioner for Human Rights: Greek, Maltese and Italian authorities must share information with Egypt concerning smugglers who allegedly killed hundreds of people
High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged Egypt and other North African and European states to help bring to justice the people smugglers who allegedly deliberately sank a boat causing the deaths of hundreds of refugees and migrants in the ‘truly horrendous incident’ which may amount to ‘mass murder’ on 10 September 2014 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,’ the High Commissioner said. Adding that ‘[a]ll 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 High Commissioner stressed that it was crucial to bring to an end the prevailing impunity surrounding such crimes, also in other parts of the world, including the Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Caribbean, as well as those carried out against migrants and refugees using land routes. Furthermore, he urged the relevant states and the international community to do more to address the root causes driving people to make such dangerous journeys.
According to the survivors interviewed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the migrants and refugees first embarked on a boat in the Egyptian port of Damietta. The passengers included many Palestinians, mostly from Gaza, along with Egyptians, Syrians, Sudanese and possibly other nationalities. All witnesses said that the smugglers who deliberately rammed the boat far out to sea between Malta and Greece were either Egyptian or Palestinian. The High Commissioner urged the Greek, Maltese and Italian authorities to share information on the identity of the smugglers with the Egyptian authorities, who he said should immediately also launch a full and thorough investigation.