Migrants aboard the Sea Watch 3 off the coast of Lampedusa | Credit: Sea Watch
Migrants aboard the Sea Watch 3 off the coast of Lampedusa | Credit: Sea Watch

The Italian Guarantor for the Rights of Detainees filed a formal complaint with the Rome prosecutor's office to call for verifying "criminally relevant aspects" in the current block on the NGO search-and-rescue vessel Sea Watch 3.

The Italian Guarantor for the Rights of Detainees filed a formal complaint with the Rome prosecutor's office to call for a verification of "any eventual criminally relevant aspects" in the current block on the NGO search-and-rescue vessel Sea Watch 3 off the coast of Lampedusa. 


In a statement, the Guarantor said it "cannot, nor does it intend to, intervene on political decisions beyond its own strict competence. However, it is its duty to take action to stop eventual violations of personal liberty, which are incompatible with the rights guaranteed by our Charter, and that could cause the country to be sanctioned on an international level." 

In particular, it said "people and their lives can never become tools of pressure in negotiations and discussions between countries. The Guarantor also maintains that the situation requires the necessity to verify whether the Italian State, through its competent authorities, is committing a violation of rights of the people being held aboard the ship." 

The situation of the Sea Watch 3 

"The migrants rescued at sea by the ship Sea Watch 3 have been aboard the boat for more than 10 days, stationed in international waters, off the coast of the Italian 'border'," the Guarantor said. "The stalled situation is the result of three different choices. The first is that of the ship's captain, who, based on evaluations confirmed by the orientation of international organizations such as the Council of Europe, considered the port indicated by the Libyan authorities as not safe and sent multiple requests to the Italian authorities to indicate a safe port, without receiving any satisfactory reply," it said. 

"The second choice was made by the authorities of the Netherlands, the country of the ship's flag, which did not send any type of support to its own ship blocked at sea. The third was made by the competent Italian authorities, who on June 16 notified the Sea Watch 3 of a ban on entrance, transit, and stopping in our waters," it said. 

'Border control is subject to human rights'

The Guarantor said the European Court of Human Rights "has argued that all forms of immigration and border control are subject to the laws on human rights". The Guarantor said it "questions whether in the case of the Sea Watch 3 it is precisely the legitimate exercise of sovereignty from our country to determine jurisdiction and responsibility towards people, including at least one unaccompanied minor, stuck in increasingly serious conditions at the edge of its waters. 

After all, the exercise of the block itself and its enactment implicate that the country guarantee the effectiveness of the rights deriving from the international obligations to the persons blocked: to not be subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment; to not be sent back to countries where that could happen; to have the chance to file an appeal against the current situation of non-freedom with the judiciary authorities; to request international protection," it said.

Note: This news was originally written on June 26, 2019.
 

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