26 January 2019

Immediate Landing for the Sea Watch 3: Legal Warning by Associations to Ministers and Prefect

On 25th January 2019, the associations Borderline Sicilia (non-profit), the Catanian Antiracist Network and ‘Pax Christi’, Punto Pace Catania, notified the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Minister of the Interior and the Prefecture of Syracuse of a legal warning for all acts of office to be carried out in order to effect the immediate landing of the 47 migrants rescued on January 19th by the Sea Watch 3. The migrants include unaccompanied foreign minors, whose immediate landing has been requested by the public prosecutor for the Court for Minors.

The rescue vessel intervened in international waters and despite repeated requests for help from the Italian, Maltese, Libyan and Dutch authorities to assume coordination of the operations, did not receive any response. No response was given either to the request for a port in which to land the persons onboard, despite the bad weather that took over the Canal of Sicily, forcing the Sea Watch to take cover off the coast of Eastern Sicily. The only authorisation received was that to enter up to a mile off the coast between Melilli and Augusta, where the ship remains blocked.

The events show the latest repetition of the same underhand script of a “show of force” used by the Italian government in relation to other European countries, carrying out a cynical, dirty game played on the back of people fleeing the Libyan well and in contrast to and violation of all national and international norms on sea rescue and landing in a safe port. All of this is taking place at the end of a week in which dozens of people have died in shipwrecks in the Mediterranean, which have taken place due to the disappearance of the rescue missions and the total inadequacy of the Libyan Coast Guard during rescue operations. The Libyan Coast Guard’s interventions, when they do happen, are designed only to bring people back to the camps in which they have been tortured, abused and beaten. These are not rescue operations but indirect push-backs carried out by the EU states who finance them.

Yesterday we received news of the opening of a legal case formulated by the court of Ministers in Catania in relation to the Minister of the Interior, Salvini, for the crime of aggravated detention of persons in relation to have kept 117 people on board the Italian Coast Guard ship Diciotti, refusing the landing of the ship at the port of Catania for 5 days. The court clearly underlines that what should be criticised is “not a political act of the executive but the instrumental and illegal use of administrative powers.”

If the forewarned administrations do not immediately initiate the procedures, an intervention by the Magistracy will be necessary in order to stop such practices from pulling our country into an abyss from which it would be increasingly difficult to emerge.

Borderline Sicilia
Rete Antirazzista Catanese
Pax Christi Punto Pace Catania


Project “OpenEurope” – Oxfam Italia, Diaconia Valdese, Borderline Sicilia Onlus

Translation by Richard Braude

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