Amnesty International: Italy Not Adhering to Law of the Sea 

The captain of Humanity 1, a German charity rescue ship, was ordered to leave the port of Catania Sunday after 144 rescued migrants were allowed to disembark, but 35 people remained on board. The captain refused to leave.

Italy allowed the ship carrying 179 migrants to enter the Sicilian port early Sunday, while rejecting safe harbor for three other ships in the vicinity carrying 900 people, The Associated Press reported.

Amnesty International’s deputy director at Europe’s regional office, Julia Hall said, “the law of the sea is clear,” in a statement.

“A rescue ends with all those rescued, are disembarked in a place of safety. There is no room for creative interpretations of the law when people are suffering and traumatized after risking their lives at sea.” 

Hall said 144 people were allowed to disembark following a brief physical exam.

But she added, “All the people rescued by Humanity 1 departed from Libya, were refugees and migrants are at constant risk of torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and other abuses.”

“By forcing 35 people to remain on board the Humanity 1, Italy is not only violating its international obligations to disembark and protect them under both human rights and maritime law, but also creating a risky situation which endangers the rescued people and the crew of Humanity 1,” Hall said. “We urge the Italian authorities to allow all those still on board to disembark as soon as possible.”

Also Sunday, another migrant rescue ship, the Geo Barents, operated by Doctors Without Borders, a charity commonly known by its French acronym MSF, arrived in Catania. This time 357 of the 572 were allowed off the vessel.”

“Italy legitimately expects other EU Member States to share responsibility for people seeking asylum, Amnesty’s Hall said, “but this does not justify imposing measures that only increase the suffering of already traumatized people.”

“It is disgraceful that the Italian government continues to assist Libyan authorities in violating their people’s human rights,” said Hall. “It adds insult to injury that the Italian government also refuses disembarkation to those who managed to leave that country.”

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press.

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