Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights | Photo: EPA/Lajos Soos
Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights | Photo: EPA/Lajos Soos

The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, says she is worried about the Italian government's attitude towards NGOs that rescue migrants in the Mediterranean. The commissioner also said EU states should 'suspend all collaboration' with Libya.

The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, told ANSA that migrants rescued at sea "should never be disembarked in Libya because the facts show that it is not a safe country". Mijatovic said she is "worried about the Italian government's attitude towards NGOs that conduct rescue operations in the Mediterranean".

The ship of the NGO Sea Watch 3, which rescued 53 migrants off Libya last week, has been waiting at sea for six days at the edge of Italian territorial waters about 16 miles off the coast of Lampedusa. Mijatovic said the ship "should be quickly assigned a safe port that can be reached rapidly."

'Put an end to closed-ports policy'

"There must be an end to the policy of closing ports to all NGOs, banning passage in territorial waters or in certain areas of international waters," Mijatovic said as part of an official recommendation released Tuesday on the protection of refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean. "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," she said, referring to sanctions in the decree for private vessels that could be involved in rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

'EU member states must suspend all collaboration with Libya'

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, Mijatovic said. This was one of the 35 recommendations in her document to Council of Europe member states, 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 stressed that responsibility for search and rescue operations, disembarkations, and reception of those rescued must be divided between all EU member states, not just coastal ones.

 

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