The Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) has demanded that Italy allow all those on NGO migrant rescue ships off Catania to disembark. The association includes lawyers, legal experts, and scholars studying issues linked to migration.
Italian authorities continue to deny entry to migrants stranded on rescue ships, including some 215 persons on board the Geo Barents docked at Catania port since the weekend.
While 89 migrants on the Rise Above ship were allowed to disembark in Reggio Calabria on Tuesday (November 8), some 230 migrants on board the Ocean Viking vessel are still waiting at sea. The ship remains off the coast of Sicily.
ASGI has strongly criticized the Italian authorities. In a statement on November 7 the association stated: "The Italian government, through the interior ministry, the transportation and sustainable mobility ministry, and the defense ministry, has once again brought in the criminalization and countering of search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea that some humanitarian organizations conduct to make up for institutional gaps," it said.
'Selection a form of collective pushback'
ASGI said that, "the illegitimate attempt to let only some of the survivors of disasters at sea disembark and push back indiscriminately all the others out of national territorial waters is, objectively, a form of collective pushback, prohibited by" the European Convention on Human Rights. It noted that Italy had previously been sentenced in a court of law for such activities (Hirsi Jamaa vs. Italy, 2012).
"The government conduct also runs counter to the principles enshrined in the Geneva Conventions on Human Rights of 1951 and, first and foremost, of the principle of non refoulement," it said.
"In this condition, it seems impossible to imagine that the ship's captain must obey the order given by the Italian administrative authorities, since if they were to take the survivors of disasters at sea out of Italian borders they and the shipowners could be held responsible for having engaged in -- by following a clearly illegitimate order -- serious human rights violations. ASGI demands that all be allowed to disembark as soon as possible," the association concluded.