Manslaughter charges brought over drowned migrants in English Channel

21st December 2021 / United Kingdom
Manslaughter charges brought over drowned migrants in English Channel

By TruePublica: Here is a story not published in a single mainstream newspaper in Britain. A humanitarian association has now filed manslaughter charges against high-ranking French and British officials for failing to help 27 people who subsequently drowned on November 26th attempting to cross the English Channel.

The charges, filed last Friday and seen by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Monday, target Claire Hughes, director of Her Majesty’s Coastguards, Philippe Dutrieux, the coast prefect of Cherbourg and Marc Bonnafous, director of the French regional coastguard, of “involuntary manslaughter” and “failure to help people in need”.

According to statements from two of the survivors, people close to the drowned migrants and people who managed to cross on the same day, distress calls were made to the French and British rescue services even before the migrants’ bodies were eventually found by a fishing trawler, the Utopia 56 (humanitarian) association said.

“They were given no immediate assistance,” it said in a statement.

Most of the victims of the boat accident on November 26 were Iraqi Kurds. Four Afghan men, three Ethiopians, a Somalian, an Egyptian and an Iranian Kurd were also drowned.

The dead included seven women, a 16-year-old boy and a seven-year-old.

The alleged shortcomings by the French and British coastguards was, according to Utopia 56 – a “regular” occurrence, adding it hoped an investigation would shed light on the circumstances of the deaths.

The association deplored that a French probe into the accident was focused essentially on the role of human traffickers, and not the authorities.

It was also noted that the British side appeared not to have bothered launching any investigation at all, it said.

The accident was the most deadly involving a migrant boat in the Channel and cast a spotlight on the increasing number of desperate people seeking to cross the narrow waterway between France and England.

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The incident then also caused major diplomatic tensions between London and Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron accusing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of being “not serious” in his approach to stopping the crossings.

France was irked by Johnson’s initial reaction, which was seen as deflecting blame onto France.

According to the investigation, the drowned migrants left in an inflatable boat from Loon-Plage in northern France at night. After their boat capsized only two men, an Iraqi Kurd and a Sudanese national, were rescued safely. According to the Iraqi survivor, there had been a total of 33 people aboard.

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