The Italian law 15/2023 prohibits captains of search and rescue vessels from carrying out more than one rescue per voyage. Five non-governmental organisations are now fighting against this.
Five non-governmental organisations filed a complaint with the European Commission last week against the Italian law 15/2023. It prohibits captains of search and rescue vessels from carrying out more than one rescue per voyage. This results in ships being tied up for considerably longer while people in distress at sea cannot be rescued.
The new law is exacerbated by an equally new practice by the authorities of assigning ports in northern rather than southern Italy to ships for the disembarkation of survivors. This policy is not provided for in any legislation, but has been common practice since December 2022, the complainants criticise. The long journeys would pose physical and psychological health risks to the rescued people on board.
The new law 15/2023 was first issued by the Italian government as a decree in January and passed by parliament two months later. Several captains have since failed to comply for reasons of conscience and have therefore had to pay fines of up to €20,000.
Forced berthing also causes further costs: at least five ships have been immobilised for 20 days as a punishment, according to the five organisations; last week the “Ocean Viking” of SOS Mediterranée was struck by this.
The organisations that filed the complaint are SOS Humanity, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Oxfam Italia, Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) and EMERGENCY.
“The European Commission is the guardian of the EU treaties and must ensure that EU member states comply with international and EU law,” demands Giulia Capitani, migration policy advisor at Oxfam Italia.
Published in German in „nd“.
Image: The »Humanity 1« (SOS Humanity)