The spokeswoman for the European Union (EU), Anitta Hipper, questioned on January 5 a new decree-law, passed a week earlier by the Italian Council of Ministers, which sets limits to sea rescue by humanitarian organizations.
“Saving people in danger at sea is a moral obligation and a legal duty,” the European Commission for Migration spokeswomen highlighted.
According to the piece of legislation, issued on December 28, vessels could sail and participate in rescuing only under the control of territorial authorities and will be authorized to conduct only one operation.
Likewise, migrants must be asked if they intend to seek international protection so that, in such a case, the country after which the boat has been flagged and the boat owner deal with the request.
Vessels should get to the assigned port without delay to finish recuing, and in case of violations, sanctions will be imposed on the captain and owner, including fines between 10,000 and 50,000 Euros and even the possible ship confiscation.
Landing sites could be very far from recue places, as it recently occurred with the Ocean Viking or the Geo Barents, which on January 10 and 11 were asked to carry the 110 rescued migrants to the south Mediterranean to the faraway harbor of Ancona, in the central Italian region of Las Marcas, in the Adriatic Sea.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, the main promoter of the measures, pointed out concerning the issue that his government´s purpose is to “face the illegal migratory flow and defend our borders” since, he said, “the current situation is not sustainable for our country.”
Several humanitarian organizations recently issued a joint statement stressing that these new provisions “will reduce sea rescue capabilities and turn the central Mediterranean Sea into even a more dangerous place.”
For that reason, the document signed by Doctors Without Borders, Emergency, SOS Humanity, Open Arms, Mission Lifeline and other groups says, “we express our deepest concern at the latest attempt by a European government to hinder assistance to people in danger at sea.”
Taken from Orbe
By Oscar Julio Redondo, Chief Correspondent/Rome