From left to right: Markus N. Beeko and Franziska Vilmar (both Amnesty International Germany), with Iuventa crew members Sascha Girke, Dariush Beigui and Hendrik Simon in Berlin | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa
From left to right: Markus N. Beeko and Franziska Vilmar (both Amnesty International Germany), with Iuventa crew members Sascha Girke, Dariush Beigui and Hendrik Simon in Berlin | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa

The crew of German migrant rescue vessel Iuventa was awarded the Amnesty human rights award 2020 for rescuing more than 14,000 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, Amnesty Germany announced Tuesday.

In 16 operations between July 2016 and August 2017, the Iuventa crew allegedly helped rescue more than 14,000 people at sea, Amnesty said. Run by the German non-governmental organization Jugend Rettet ("Youth Rescues"), the Iuventa was confiscated by Italian authorities in Lampedusa in August 2017 under the suspicion that the organization was aiding illegal immigration and working with Libyan smugglers.

Ten crew members from Germany, UK, Spain and Portugal have since faced legal action in Italy, "even though all they were doing is saving people from drowning in the Mediterranean," the German branch of rights organization Amnesty International Germany said Tuesday

"The Iuventa crew stands for all the volunteers who work on water and on land to help people seeking protection to survive. Amnesty International therefore honors them with the Amnesty Human Rights Award 2020 on behalf of all these human rights defenders," said Markus Beeko, secretary-general for Amnesty International Germany.

Criminal investigation

In an interview with Catholic news agency KNA, crew member Dariush Beigui of Jugend Rettet said that the award is a strong statement speaking out against the criminalization of solidarity. "Hopefully this will also resonate with the mainstream of European foreign policy, which calls into question the work we do every day."

Beigui and his fellow crew members are awaiting trial in Italy. He says the crew, which consists largely of volunteers, is doing its best to inform the public about how humanitarian efforts are under pressure.

The Amnesty human rights prize of €10,000 ($10,900) is awarded every two years to individuals or organizations that stand up for human rights despite difficult circumstances.

With dpa, KNA

•••• ➤ Also read: Carola Rackete and Pia Klemp: Two German sea captains who put their duty before the law

•••• ➤ Also read: German boat captain Pia Klemp faces prison in Italy for migrant rescues

•••• ➤ Also read: EU countries put pressure on refugee sea rescue missions

 

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