Joseph Muscat and Robert Abela could be called to reply to a criminal complaint against them filed in The Hague if the International Criminal Court accepts to hear a case on Malta’s policy of pushing migrants at sea to Libya.

The complaint, filed by German NGO the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, alleges that the system of intercepting boats in the Meditarreanean and sending people on board back into detention in Libya is a crime “against humanity in the form of the severe deprivation of physical liberty”.

The complaint by the NGO also refers to Italian government ministers in office between 2018 and 2021 when the policy of pushing back migrants to Libya was in place. Ministers named in the complaint include firebrand Matteo Salvini who for a time was Italy’s interior minister.

Agreements with Libya to take back migrants escaping there to make it to Europe by boat were backed by the EU. EU border resources were reported to be supporting the Libyan coastguard in their effort to capture and haul back migrants escaping Libya.