06.08.2013

The tragedy of the boat people on the MT Salamis continues. According to the will of Maltese and Italian authorities, the refugees should be brought back to the Libyan hell, while the oil on board of the tanker shall be transferred to Malta – as originally intended. PRO ASYL demands the EU to guarantee the reception of the rescued boat people in a safe port in Europe.

The tra­ge­dy of the boat peop­le on the MT Sala­mis con­ti­nues. Accord­ing to the will of Mal­te­se and Ita­li­an aut­ho­ri­ties, the refu­gees should be brought back to the Liby­an hell, while the oil on board of the tan­ker shall be trans­fer­red to Mal­ta – as ori­gi­nal­ly inten­ded. PRO ASYL deman­ds the EU to gua­ran­tee the recep­ti­on of the res­cued boat peop­le in a safe port in Euro­pe.

The tra­ge­dy of the boat peop­le on the MT Sala­mis con­ti­nues. Accord­ing to the will of Mal­te­se and Ita­li­an aut­ho­ri­ties, the refu­gees should be brought back to the Liby­an hell, while the oil on board of the tan­ker shall be trans­fer­red to Mal­ta – as ori­gi­nal­ly inten­ded. PRO ASYL deman­ds the EU to gua­ran­tee the recep­ti­on of the res­cued boat peop­le in a safe port in Euro­pe.

Again, a cyni­cal power strugg­le is car­ri­ed out at the expan­se of refu­gees res­cued in dis­tress. The huma­ne tre­at­ment for 102 pro­tec­tion see­king men, women and child­ren is not an issue. Their life and their phy­si­cal inte­gri­ty are of no impor­t­an­ce in this mili­ta­ry blo­cka­de in inter­na­tio­nal waters near Mal­ta.

PRO ASYL sta­tes: The­re is no “safe har­bor” for refu­gees in Libya. After the era of Gad­da­fi, pro­tec­tion see­kers are still expo­sed to seve­re human rights vio­la­ti­ons the­re. If Euro­pean sta­tes force the tan­ker to return to Libya, human and refu­gee rights of the res­cued boat peop­le would be vio­la­ted.

The harsh hand­ling of the boat and the crew of the Sala­mis is meant as a deter­rent. In this part of the Medi­ter­ra­ne­an Sea more than 3.000 boat peop­le have drow­ned in the last two years. In many cases it has been docu­men­ted that poli­ce, mili­ta­ry and com­mer­ci­al ves­sels had neglec­ted res­cue from dis­tress. Threa­ten­ing the tan­ker Sala­mis with mili­ta­ry force sends out a fatal messa­ge to other boat crews again: look away, car­ry on, and avo­id pro­blems with peop­le in dis­tress.

An end of Euro­pean indif­fe­rence in view of thousands of deaths would be a first step towards deve­lo­ping a com­mon poli­cy for the recep­ti­on of boat peop­le. It would be a clear rejec­tion of the push-back poli­cy to Libya.

Back­ground

In the night of Sunday to Mon­day, 102 refu­gees in dis­tress at sea were res­cued by the crew of the tan­ker “Sala­mis”. The Ita­li­an Mari­ti­me Res­cue Coor­di­na­ti­on Cent­re had inst­ruc­ted the ves­sel to res­cue the dis­tres­sed per­sons. After the res­cue the Ita­li­an aut­ho­ri­ties inst­ruc­ted the ship to pro­ceed to a “place of safe­ty” in Libya for the dis­em­bar­ka­ti­on of the res­cued refu­gees. Ins­te­ad the tan­ker took cour­se for Mal­ta and is cur­r­ent­ly pre­ven­ted from ent­e­ring Mal­te­se waters by the Armed Forces of Mal­ta. The sur­vi­vors of the ship­wreck, amongst them 20 women and a baby, are stuck on the tan­ker. Accord­ing to the ship’s ope­ra­tors, the crew won’t be able to pro­vi­de for the refu­gees any lon­ger.

The Inter­na­tio­nal Con­ven­ti­on on Mari­ti­me Search and Res­cue (SAR) of 1979 obli­ges ship crews to bring res­cued per­sons to a “place of safe­ty”.  In the annex it is spe­ci­fied that this place can­not be defi­ned sole­ly by geo­gra­phi­cal loca­ti­on. Pro­tec­tion see­kers and refu­gees reco­ve­r­ed at sea may not be dis­em­bar­ked in ter­ri­to­ries whe­re their lives and free­doms would be threa­tened. The Inter­na­tio­nal Mari­ti­me Orga­ni­za­ti­on empha­si­zes this in the Reso­lu­ti­on MSC.167(78), 6.17 of the Mari­ti­me Safe­ty Com­mit­tee. In Libya refu­gees are at risk of suf­fe­ring seve­re human rights vio­la­ti­ons. A func­tio­n­ing asyl­um sys­tem that pro­tects refu­gees doesn’t exist.

The Ita­li­an aut­ho­ri­ties inst­ruc­ting the ship to dis­em­bark res­cued pro­tec­tion see­kers the­re, appears to be an attempt to ille­gal­ly push back pro­tec­tion see­kers to Libya by using a com­mer­ci­al ves­sel. This would mean a bre­ach of the princip­le of non-refou­le­ment.

Accord­ing to Mal­ta Today, some refu­gees who had been res­cued by a Tur­kish ship in the same night, had been brought back to Libya in accord­ance with the inst­ruc­tions of Ita­li­an aut­ho­ri­ties.