International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

African leaders silent as their people perish in the Mediterranean. Could they be blamed for neglect and turning a blind eye?

The article discusses the widespread silence from African leaders amid a global crisis of many African immigrants being shipwrecked in the Mediterranean. As we discussed in class, when Gaddafi was in charge in Libya, he struck a deal with EU leaders to seal the ports from illegal immigrants out of Africa, to “stop Europe turning black.” However, ever since Gaddafi was overthrown, the cap that was keeping Africans in Africa has been removed.

Evidently, the blame can fall on both the European and African leaders for allowing such massive tragedies to take place right in front of them. However, the question at the end of the day is, whose responsibility is it to 1. make sure the illegal immigration is controlled and 2. prevent these people stop dying in the middle of the sea?

As the article notes, four of top 10 countries with most immigrants are Mali, Gambia, Senegal and Nigeria, which are relatively stable states with no war going on. Such a trend means that African leaders must look beyond the statistics of economic growth and actually figure out what is happening on the ground because clearly, most of these people see no future for themselves in Africa. Could the African leaders be blamed for being negligent in letting these tragedies happen? or is the blame more on the Europeans?


One response to “African leaders silent as their people perish in the Mediterranean. Could they be blamed for neglect and turning a blind eye?

  1. ah2017intjustice April 29, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Europe has both humanitarian and legal obligations to prevent the mass drownings that have occurred this year. In the past, many European states have more actively met this obligation. In 2013, Italy launched an initiative called Mare Nostrum, Our Sea, which sponsored the Navy to carry out humanitarian search and rescue missions to find those crossing the Mediterranean. Because this policy made it safer and easier to cross, the EU called an end to the mission in 2014 due to fear it had become “an unintended ‘pull factor,’ encouraging more migrants.” Though this may be the case, the choice to end the rescue missions is putting Europe in violation of International Maritime law and custom. The “master” of a ship, upon learning of or encountering a “person of distress” at sea must assist them under several international convention. Regardless of nationality, status, or the circumstances in which a person is found, there is a legal obligation to bring them to land. Once the person is brought to land, the immigration or refugee laws of the state then take over, but while they are in the water ensuring they do not drown is not a policy choice but a legal obligation.

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