French Navy crew help rescued migrants during the EU sea patrol mission Triton/Frontex in 2015 | Photo: EPA/SEBASTIEN CHENAL
French Navy crew help rescued migrants during the EU sea patrol mission Triton/Frontex in 2015 | Photo: EPA/SEBASTIEN CHENAL

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has called on EU member states to relaunch a naval rescue operation in the Mediterranean. The body, which is not related to the European Union, highlighted that it is the duty of EU member states "not to let people drown in the Mediterranean."

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has approved a resolution demanding immediate action to save lives in the Mediterranean, calling on EU member states to relaunch an EU naval operation for sea rescue.

"Over the past six years, almost 20,000 persons have perished during their perilous journey across the Mediterranean. This situation is untenable and should be remedied without further delay," the assembly said in the resolution.

"It is the duty of states not to let people drown in the Mediterranean."

'No human rights in Mediterranean'

The resolution said there was "continued denial of the basic human rights of migrants in the Mediterranean" and criticized the policy followed thus far by the European Union.

"The European Union's continued priority given to border control and the tendency to promote the processing of asylum claims to countries and regions outside its frontiers have not yielded convincing results," the resolution said, adding that it believed these practices may have actually increased "the risks to which asylum-seekers expose themselves in their efforts to reach safety."

The Assembly recommended that future European Union presidencies "give greater priority to putting an end to unnecessary deaths in the Mediterranean Sea and build on current positive debate among member states willing to share the responsibilities for reception and integration of refugees and asylum-seekers".

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said it also urged the EU to accelerate its work on revising the Dublin Regulation.

Praise for EU relocation plan

The Assembly meanwhile welcomed the agreement reached in Malta on September 23, 2019, by the interior ministers of Finland, France, Germany, Italy and Malta to redistribute sea arrivals in Italy and Malta across various member states, and said it is "strongly hoping that as many EU member states as possible will join it."

The resolution called on all member states to support proposals "aimed to implement more efficient relocation and thus share responsibilities for migration management on the basis of reliable and efficient solidarity."

However, the Assembly rejected the Italian proposal for not putting limits on collaboration with Libya's coast guard. The resolution called on member states to "reconsider training, financing and equipping as well as the logistical support for Libya's coast guard by the EU and its member states".

But it said that a precondition for cooperation should always be Libya's "full implementation of international human rights standards and full respect for the Geneva Refugee Convention."

 

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