Egyptian court convicts 56 over migrant boat tragedy

TMP – 18/04/2017

An Egyptian court has sent 56 people smugglers to jail for the killing of more than 200 migrants in September 2016 when their overcrowded boat capsized.

The convicted were found guilty of manslaughter, negligence, using a boat for unlicensed purposes, endangering children and organising illegal immigration. Their sentences varied from two to 14 years behind bars.. The vessel, which had set off from the Egyptian port of Rosetta was heading it for Italy. It was carrying around 450 people from Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and Egypt.

A BBC report indicates  the boat owner and crew members alongside the  middlemen, were charged. One woman was acquitted. The lesser charges included not using sufficient rescue equipment, endangering lives, receiving money from the victims, hiding suspects from authorities and using a vessel without a license.

September’s incident pushed the Egyptian government to pass legislation that sets out prison terms and fines for those found guilty of smuggling migrants and refugees.

The law stipulates longer years of imprisonment and a life sentence for smugglers who aim to execute a terrorist attack by smuggling illegal migrants, those who cause the death or disability of an illegal migrant while transporting them, those who smuggle women or children and those who use fake documentation to create new identities for migrants.

In February this year, the country launched a project to prevent and respond to irregular migration in Egypt, which is being supported by the UK government in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration. The project will provide community outreach activities to inform migrants about the risks of irregular migration and positive alternatives in Egypt.