9 August 2017
We express concern and dismay at the ongoing criminalisation of NGO rescues in the Mediterranean.
Co-chair Monica Frassoni comments on the Italian authorities’ criminalisation of NGOs who rescue people in the Mediterranean Sea:
“The European Greens express concern and dismay at the ongoing criminalisation of NGO rescues in the Mediterranean by the Italian authorities, and demand that the Italian government urgently reviews some of the most controversial parts of the Code of Conduct for NGOs.
“The Code of Conduct contradicts, in several ways, the current international regulations for rescue operations at sea, and in its current form greatly hinders the life-saving operations. This is notably the case where the prohibition of the transfer of migrants from one boat to another is concerned.
“The Code of Conduct also infringes current practices of internationally recognised NGOs, which are based on the absence of armed people on their premises.
“We urge the European Commission and the European Parliament to take a close and careful look at the legal and operational consequences of the Code of Conduct, and to refrain from lending their support to the Italian authorities too hastily.
“There is no invasion of migrants in Italy, nor indeed in Europe as a whole! However, manipulative fake news campaigns are having a major effect on public opinion.
“Libya, as correctly noted by Secretary of State Giro, is not a safe place to send migrants back to. Additionally, we agree with Transport Minister Delrio when he says that the Code of Conduct should not derogate from international regulations on rescues at sea. It is a welcome news that the attitude of Minister of the Interior Minniti has been criticised within the Italian government.
“In this respect, we express our deepest concern at the pushback of almost 1,000 people back to Libya in the last few days, carried out by the Libyan navy and assisted by Italian vessels.
“It is time to stop criminalising those who are trying to help in the absence of effective action by public authorities. About 40% of current search and rescue operations are carried out by NGOs, and despite their efforts and the efforts of the Italian navy, more than 5,000 people died in the Mediterranean over the last 12 months.
“We don't want to see a repeat of the events that took place when Italy sent back more than 1,000 migrants to Libya between 2009 and 2010. Italy was later condemned by the court of human rights. Today, it is the whole of the EU and most of its member states which face such a shame: for their persistent lack of political will to implement the reallocation decision of 2015; for refusing to help Italy with the arrival of migrants and the organisation of safe humanitarian corridors; for refusing to develop a joint strategy in Libya away from individual and sporadic initiatives in favour of this or that war lord; and for giving too little attention and resources to a common cooperation policy in the area.
“We urge the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament to intervene by taking a close look at the unfolding events in the Mediterranean Sea.”