Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has announced a new security decree that cracks down further on NGOs helping migrants and redistributes ministries' competencies regarding the sea. The draft of the new decree, which has not yet been released, has already set off controversy.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's first security decree called the "Salvini decree" was at the center of a tug-of-war between allies in the Five-Star Movement (M5S), and was eventually signed by Italian President Sergio Mattarella with some recommendations attached.
Now, a second security decree announced by Salvini risks setting off tensions that will be difficult to reconcile in the majority. The interior ministry's office wrote the draft text and Salvini said he is ready to bring it to one of the upcoming cabinet meetings. However, members of M5S have already called for a stop, and a very careful examination of the measure can be expected by the president's office at the Quirinale.
New decree for rescues at sea
The draft text specifies that the decree is motivated by the "extraordinary necessity and urgency of providing measures aimed at fighting elusive practices of rules that govern the identification of destination sites for people rescued at sea."
Article 1 aims to hit NGOs by introducing high fines for those who perform rescues at sea. For those who do not abide by the rules - in particular those who don't obey instructions from the country responsible for the rescue area - the sanction goes from 3,500 euros to 5,500 euros for each of the migrants transported. In the most serious cases, licenses may be revoked, which would result in the end of operations for humanitarian ships in the Mediterranean.
Salvini wants to redesign ministerial competencies
Article 2 redraws competencies at sea, taking them away from Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli of M5S. By modifying the Navigation Code, the document establishes that "the interior minister can limit or prohibit the transit and the stopping of mercantile ships, pleasure craft, or fishing boats in territorial waters for reasons of public order and safety." The transport ministry's jurisdiction would thus be limited to maritime safety and marine environmental protection.
Article 3 will also cause arguments, as it encroaches on the territory of Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede by modifying the Code of Criminal Procedure. It would extend to the crimes associated with abetting illegal immigration both the jurisdiction of district attorneys as well as the regulation of preventative wiretapping, in order to fight irregular migrant transport with an "upstream" approach.