Council of Europe urges port for Sea Watch 'immediately'

Calls for end to closed ports, 'stop collaborating with Libya'

18 June, 16:26

    STRASBOURG - The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic on Tuesday called for a ship operated by the Sea Watch NGO to be assigned a port of safety after it rescued 52 migrants off Libya last week.

    Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said the the Sea Watch 3 ship should dock in Tripoli, but the vessel has refused, saying the Libyan capital is not a safe port. ''Migrants saved at sea should never be disembarked in Libya because the facts show that it is not a safe country," Mijatovic told ANSA. "I am worried about the Italian government's attitude towards NGOs that conduct rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

    "The Sea Watch 3," which has been on the edge of Italian territorial waters for the past 6 days, some 16 nautical miles from Lampedusa, "should be quickly assigned a safe port that can be reached rapidly," she said.

    Mijatovic called for an end to Salvini's policy of closing Italy's ports to NGO-run search-and-rescue ships. She also expressed concern about the government's new security decree, which sees NGO ships that bring migrants rescued at sea to Italy without permission facing fines of up to 50,000 euros.

    "I am seriously worried about impact some parts of the second security decree could have on the lives of people who need to be saved at sea," said Mijatovic.

    EU Member States must suspend all collaboration with Libya until it is proven that the human rights of those disembarked on its coasts are not violated, she said. This is one of the 35 recommendations made by Mijatovic to the Member States of the Council of Europe, especially those that are also EU members, to balance the right to control one's borders with the duty to protect the lives and rights of people rescued in the Mediterranean Sea. In the recommendations, the commissioner repeatedly stresses the responsibility for search and rescue operations, disembarking and reception of those rescued must be divided between EU member States and not required simply of coastal ones.

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