NGO”s Ships & Migrants Slavers: Legal professionals vs Judges in Italy. Criticism to Hague ICC

Within the cowl picture the ship Eleonore and the complainant attorneys Pellegrino (left) and Ferrari…

Within the cowl picture the ship Eleonore and the complainant attorneys Pellegrino (left) and Ferrari (proper)

“Within the current case, there’s nothing to recommend that there’s any settlement between rescue crews and traffickers. Pure conjecture is the accusatory thesis that the premise of the NGOs’ rescue motion of can be their consciousness to help the trafficking in human beings managed by African prison organizations».

That is what the Choose of the Preliminary Investigations of the Court docket of Catania, Dr Luigi Barone, wrote, denying investigation regardless of the assertion of opposition filed by the Milanese attorneys Giuseppe Pellegrino and Alberto Ferrari on behalf of the affiliation Civitas.

As soon as once more the state of affairs already seen in Might 2019 happens: in that case an NGO, the ship of which had been beforehand seized, was cleared of any wrongdoing by one other choose of the identical Court docket.

“There is no such thing as a proof of any contact between NGOs and smugglers”: with this reasoning one other choose (Nunzio Sarpietro) had granted the request of the prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro to fairly the probe into commander Marc Reig Creus and head of mission Ana Isabel Montes Mier, answerable for the ship operated by the Spanish NGO ProActiva Open Arms. They have been investigated for facilitation of unlawful immigration due to the disembarkation of 218 migrants rescued off the coast of Libya in Pozzallo (Ragusa), in March 2018.

The sentence of the choose of Catania

The result of the final proceedings on 17 December 2021 is much more severe: the case had been filed certainly on the premise of first-person testimonies delivered by a number of victims of human trafficking. Whereas justice is hesitating in gathering proof of guilt and of agreements between rescue organizations and “slavers”, huge debarkation and exploitation of slaves continues unabated on Italian territory as nicely.

“Absolutely as regards to trafficking there’s a whole lot of ignorance. However generally it appears there’s additionally little will to know the extent of the issue. Why? As a result of it impacts our consciences intently, as a result of it’s thorny, as a result of it makes us ashamed. There are additionally individuals who, even figuring out it, don’t wish to discuss it as a result of they’re on the finish of the ‘provide chain of consumption’, as a person of the ‘companies’ which can be provided on the highway or on the web. Lastly, there are individuals who are not looking for us to speak about it, as they’re immediately concerned within the prison organizations that achieve enormous earnings from trafficking”.

With these phrases Pope Francis on 12 February 2018 addressed the contributors within the Fourth World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Motion towards Trafficking in Individuals.

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4 years have handed, the Directorate of Antimafia Investigation has printed alarming dossiers on the function of Nigerian prison organisations within the exploitation of human beings, however the wound remains to be removed from being healed by a “political” method of the Judiciary that refuses to acknowledge any correlation between NGOs and migrant traffickers even when witnessed by the victims themselves.

“The proceedings come up from seven studies filed by the affiliation Civitas concerning seven search and rescue operations carried out by non governmental associations in 2019-20. Particularly, the complainant alleges that the NGOs Sea-Eye, Mission Life, Sos Méditerranée Italia Onlus and Open Arms, by the search and rescue operations of migrants carried out within the Mediterranean Sea between the Libyan and Italian coasts, would have put in place an exercise of integrative help to move carried out by the African prison organizations, thus collaborating within the crime of trafficking in human beings supplied for by artwork. 601 c.p”: Choose of the Preliminary Investigations of the Court docket of Catania states.

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“The accusatory perspective would present the causally related NGOs’ function throughout the prison goal of African prison organizations that might intention to move lots of of migrants enslaved on Italian territory in an effort to revenue”: thus reads the introductory assertion of the dismissal order we’re publishing right here in preview.


Civitas is an affiliation that originates from the defensive exercise of two attorneys, who over a three-year interval (2015-2018) have represented “some fifty asylum-seekers. The testimonies collected have shed a light-weight on an enormous organized prison mechanism unfold not solely on African soil, but additionally on Italian territory: trafficking in human beings decreased to slavery”, as Mr Pellegrino and Mr Ferrari identified.

However the place do the complaints come from? “Among the many asylum-seekers (all males from Western Africa), solely ten victims, following an extended means of integration and rising consciousness, have determined to file earlier than the Worldwide Prison Court docket (hereinafter ICC) an data associated to human trafficking. They requested the Workplace of the Prosecutor (hereinafter OTP) to open a scenario – i.e. an investigation – on 4 transit nations (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Libya) and Italian Republic as nation of vacation spot”.

As soon as highlighted the guts of the matter, each attorneys monitored day by day debarkations on the Governmental web site from September 2019 till February 2020. In correspondence to the huge arrivals they investigated on open sources the NGOs concerned in transport operations.

On 3 September 2019, the Prosecutor Workplace of Ragusa registered with the listing of suspects the commander and head of mission of the ship Eleonore belonging to the German NGO Mission Lifeline. The ship had entered the port the day earlier than carrying 104 migrants, after having declared a state of emergency, and compelled the ban imposed by the Italian authorities. The Prosecutor of Ragusa opened an investigation to confirm whether or not prison violations occurred.

In accordance with the Prosecution Workplace the cost would have been aiding and abetting unlawful immigration. However in response to Civitas’ attorneys the modus operandi is systemic, due to this fact not occasional, thus constituting the way more severe violation of human trafficking operated by African organisations. “We have now reported to the Court docket the touchdown strategies, and indicated as subjects of investigation the interception of radio communications between the rescue NGOs and the traffickers on the Libyan shore by way of AlarmPhone or different medias”: Mr Pellegrino and Ferrari clarify.


The Civitas Affiliation’s attorneys Alberto Ferrari (left) and Giuseppe Pellegrino (proper)

“Our Affiliation doesn’t have any details about the particular circumstances inherent to the arrival of ship Eleonore within the port of Pozzallo on 2 September 2019, other than these traceable on open sources”: that may be learn in a data deed delivered to the Prosecution Workplace of Catania, corresponding to within the different instances concerning different NGOs.

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“Our Affiliation is just not conscious of any of the next parts, which can in any case be ascertained and reconstructed by the Prosecutor: the aim of navigation at sea; the justification of navigation to the port authorities at departure and arrival in ports; the concrete modalities of the analysis exercise of vessels at sea (i.e. aerial commentary fairly than radio or phone contact with Libyan traffickers); contacts with warships, governmental search and rescue ships, in addition to with navy instructions; contacts with Italian Nationwide Company for Civil Aviation (ENAC), if relevant, for any actions of air patrol”: what il declared in Civitas’ data deeds.

“The modest contribution to the investigation into the info that the affiliation Civitas could make right here is proscribed, in reality, to the statements launched by the victims: individually by the ten victims who denounced the trafficking to the OTP (members protected throughout the Affiliation), and by thirty-three different witnesses who’ve personally gone by the expertise of trafficking throughout their journey to Italy too; and collectively by lots of them throughout ten collective interviews once they in contrast the experiences individually lived”.

“The testimony launched by all of the individuals heard considerations two routes, the Malian and the Nigerian one, that join the nations of West Africa to Libya. Little consciousness has been expressed of the best way by which patrol and restoration actions within the Mediterranean are organised and coordinated with the Libyan traffickers who organise the departure of vessels from the coast, in addition to the function of native navy personnel within the total context of trafficking”.

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“A reality has been constantly reported: nearly all of the rafts launched into the ocean in the course of the night time (departure time was at all times round midnight-two within the morning) have been handed in to a few migrants (not traffickers belonging to Libyan prison organizations, in slang referred to as Asma Boys) among the many hundred individuals embarked. One had the accountability of the rudder and the opposite of the compass and the satellite tv for pc telephone, on which the emergency telephone quantity was already saved: a direct channel, due to this fact, hyperlinks Libyan traffickers and volunteers of non-governmental organizations”.

In accordance with Civitas’ authorized representatives opinion there are substantial parts which the Judiciary may examine in depth, evaluating rescue dates with alarms, interceptions and so on. However their “good will” got here up towards an enormous first impediment: the prison offence qualification as a much less severe misdemeanour.

The Court docket of Catania dominated justifying the downgrading qualification operated by the Prosecutor’s Workplace as follows: “The Prosecutor has registered the notitia criminis as facilitating unlawful immigration. On this sense, opposite to what the opposing social gathering (the Affiliation) affirms, the selection of qualification made by the Prosecutor, removed from representing a failure to prosecute, is as an alternative an expression of an influence expressly supplied for by the Code of prison process”.

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“If each particular person is entitled to denounce info of which he’s conscious, it’s then as much as the Prosecutor – exactly in his capability to advertise prison motion – to qualify the info in the best way he considers correct, bearing in mind the weather arisen through the investigation part”.

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No matter these parts have been is just not clear but however, in response to the Court docket, “Having stated that, the Choose totally agrees with the authorized classification given by the Prosecutor to the alleged offences reported; however, these seem like missing of an evidentiary foundation”.

After the authorized evaluation, nonetheless, the Choose expresses an moral reasoning: “In evaluating the fixed rescue motion at sea by NGOs, the legitimacy and certainly the obligation to take action should not be uncared for, in addition to the numerous nationwide and worldwide guidelines duly recalled by the Prosecutor in its request. It’s enough, on this regard, to notice that  NGOs’ exercise falls throughout the ‘SAR system’, by which legitimately function a multiplicity of actors – navy and never – together with non-governmental organizations”.

The choose concludes: “leaving apart the above issues concerning the absence of a psychological factor, it should even be noticed that  NGOs’ conduct, removed from being the expression of an alleged pactum sceleris between them and traffickers, is nothing greater than the fulfilment of an obligation in accordance with the above talked about norms”.

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Mr Pellegrino feedback as follows: “The order delivered by the Court docket of Catania is just not restricted to an analysis of the reality or falsehood of a given reality, or on the necessity to apply a selected sanction to a given conduct. On this case the Choose created a rule, and acknowledged that it’s completely lawful crusing in worldwide waters to gather shipwrecked individuals embarked by prison organizations on unfit boats and switch them to Italian territory. Such judicial method to the matter violates the social contract and places the citizen in situations of substantial anarchy, as a result of the rule that ought to information him is just not pronounced as soon as and for all by Parliament, however occasionally by the person Choose after that info occurred”.

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Mr Ferrari provides: “This order of the Court docket of Catania violates artwork. 112 of Italian Structure, advert it clears the Prosecutor’s Workplace from its obligation to research and cost, burdening the person, who shouldn’t solely present a factual framework, but additionally an entire evidentiary help, with out, nonetheless, having the gear and devices of the judicial police. Ought to Italian Authorized System put the Police Forces on the disposal of the citizen, in order that he can fulfil this supposed burden of proof, then the obligatory prosecution entrusted to Prosecution Places of work can be superfluous and would pave the best way to a non-public prosecution. However the nations of Western and up to date juridical tradition have by no means reached this level”.

Case closed? Completely not. Civitas has filed additional denunciations earlier than different Prosecutor Places of work and is ready for the incoming selections. Anyway the matter turned from strictly prison.

Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio
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