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Italy law to push back migrants will increase deaths at sea

  • Published on
    January 17, 2023
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  • Category:
    Law & Policy
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Italy recently passed new legislation that seeks to curb arrivals from refugees crossing the Mediterranean, known as the deadliest sea migration route since 2014.

People left to die

The inhumanity underpinning the law is striking – the law would prevent rescue ships from assisting with multiple rescues, instead requiring them to head to a port immediately after a rescue.

At times, rescue ships would be unable to conduct a rescue for up to a week. In practice, this would mean vessels would have to sail past people in distress and leave people to drown. Though this contravenes the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue and the UN Convention on Law of the Sea, this appears to be of little concern to the Italian government.

The EU is complicit

Since 2014 state-led search and rescue (SAR) missions have largely stopped leaving NGOs and humanitarian organizations to step in. SAR missions are not only fundamental to saving lives in the Mediterranean but to also bear witness to human rights violations as a result of Europe’s policies. Oliver Kulikowski, a spokesperson at Sea-Watch, said “There is no European rescue mission, only European aerial surveillance, which is complicit in illegal pushbacks by passing information to its Libyan allies.”

People attempting to make the journey from Libya are escaping unimaginable horrors including forced labor, torture and extreme violence. For them, their only option is to risk the journey across the Mediterranean with the hopes of seeking refuge in a safe country like Italy. Sasha Ockendon from SOS Humanity, a SAR organization, said “We rescue many pregnant women and minors from unsafe boats. They are in the most desperate of situations.”

Al Jazeera reports:

Another element of this legislation is also the legal obligation for captains and crew members to collect information about everyone on board.

This contravenes UN guidance and other legislation about the right to claim asylum – which is that asylum requests should be dealt with after disembarkation at a place of safety, and that immediate needs must be dealt with first.

Take action

Over 33,000 in the Freedom United community are urgently calling on EU member states to step up for humanity and set up a disembarkation and relocation mechanism for people rescued in the Mediterranean Sea not tied to the Libyan Coastguard.

Sign the petition TODAY!


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Bill Smith
1 year ago

Don’t blame Italy. England should turn away boats also. No room for our own people.

Bill Smith
1 year ago

Don’t blame Italy

Concerned European
Concerned European
1 year ago

I think it’s time Africa deals with their own problems and stops jumping over to an already over populated and stressful Europe / EU. The human rights card is being played incorrectly and unlawfully ALWAYS by those who are mostly economic migrants, NOT political asylum or proper refugees… The NGO’s should start looking after their own, who are struggling to survive, whilst their countries / governments are spending the resources that should have been used to improve their lives…

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