Migrant traffickers on trial in Europe

Following up on Justice Info’s article published last month, our partners at Asymmetrical Haircuts Janet Anderson, Stephanie van den Berg and Margherita Capacci ask: How come two Eritrean men are on trial in Italy and the Netherlands connected to human trafficking in Libya? One of their guests Gerben Wilbrink, a Dutch prosecutor, explains the cases, why they can be prosecuted by Dutch courts and the practical reasons why they are not prosecuted for war crime or crime against humanity. Another, Italian prosecutor Giorgia Righi, goes into the specifics of her country’s investigations in this matter. While Nicole Samson, head of the Libya unified team at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), explains the role - and limitations - of the ICC in what is presented as a joint effort between national courts and the international court to address crimes against migrants as human trafficking.

Life jackets abandoned by migrants who arrived in Italy by sea
© Marco Gulla / AFP
1 min 47Approximate reading time

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The arrests of two Eritrean men extradited to Italy and the Netherlands have shed light on the work of a Joint Team looking into crimes against migrants in Libya. The men were accused of being part of a network that trafficks migrants from Ethiopia and Eritrea to Libya and then to Italy and Northern Europe. Part of the network’s revenues come from ransom that they ask from the families of migrants, who they held in Libya until more money is paid. In these detention centres migrants often experience torture, rape, and other human rights abuses. 

Stephanie went to the procedural opening of an alleged Eritrean trafficker known as Welid in the provincial town of Zwolle (very pretty place, but not a usual crimes against humanity spot for us). She asked Gerben Wilbrink spokesperson for the Dutch Prosecutors Office about the link to the Netherlands. 

Via our Italian connection, we got an insight into the investigations that led to the arrest and extradition of another alleged trafficker Ghebremedin Temeschen Ghebru to Italy. Our producer Margherita Capacci interviewed public Prosecutor Giorgia Righi who told her more about the cooperation behind the case and the specific charges that Ghebru is facing.

As the ICC officially joined the Joint Team in September 2022, Janet could get hold of Nicole Samson, senior trial lawyer and head of the Libya Unified team. Alongside the ICC, there’s Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom Spain and – most importantly – Europol. Samson discusses the details of how this cooperation developed and how it relates to ICC investigations into the armed conflict in Libya.

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This podcast has been published as part of a partnership between JusticeInfo.net and Asymmetrical Haircuts, a podcast on international justice produced from The Hague by journalists Janet Anderson and Stephanie van den Berg, who retain full control and independence over the contents of the podcast.

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