This article discusses the application that was recently lodged with the European Court of Human Rights alleging that Italy is responsible for its involvement in pullbacks by the Libyan coast guard. It places the case in the wider context of migration control policies and the Hirsi case in particular. The article examines different pullback scenarios which feature in the application lodged with the Court, and discusses different ways in which the Court can address the issues raised. The analysis focuses particularly on the question whether the Court is likely to find that Italy exercises jurisdiction and whether Italy could incur derived responsibility for its involvement in the pullbacks. The article concludes by suggesting that holding Italy responsible would require the Court to move beyond established precedent in its case-law. Although this is a move which can be difficult to make given the political tide in Europe, it would not be the first time that the Court takes its case-law, and thereby human rights protection, a step further.
Migration control policies at Europe’s borders that lead to human rights violations are widespread. As a result, NGO s, law clinics and individual lawyers mobilise the law against different actors in an attempt to seek accountability for these violations and end the policies that cause them. Accordingly, the aim of this article is to present an overview of and initial reflection on strategic litigation concerning the Central Mediterranean migration route. The article first depicts European migration control policies in the Central Mediterranean and their human rights consequences. It then provides an overview of recent strategic litigation before various domestic, regional and international forums. Finally, the article discusses the potential of these litigation efforts to overcome the accountability challenges caused by European migration control policies in the Central Mediterranean.