Amnesty, HRW says NGO code could cost lives

Organizations warn of impact of limiting scope of migrant rescue

12 July, 12:44

    (ANSAmed) - Brussels, July 12 - A new European code of conduct drafted by Italy for NGOs carrying out migrant rescues in the southern Mediterranean could cost thousands of lives, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a joint statement Wednesday "after having seen a draft of the document".

    "Perversely, the proposed code of conduct for NGOs saving lives in the Mediterranean could put lives at risk," said Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty International's European Institutions Office.

    "Attempts to restrict life-saving NGO search and rescue operations risk endangering thousands of lives by impeding rescue boats from accessing the perilous waters near Libya".

    The code is set to be adopted after Rome appealed to the EU, saying its ability to cope with the arrival of asylum seekers was at the limit after over 85,000 came via sea so far this year. There has been claims from some quarters in Italy that the rescues by NGOs are actually encouraging human traffickers.

    The statement said the new code would: bar NGO vessels from entering Libyan territorial waters; stop them from using lights to signal their location to migrant vessels; force them to return to port to disembark refugees and migrants, rather than allowing them to transfer rescued people onto other vessels at sea.

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