Italy Immobilizes the Spanish Immigrant Rescue Boat Open Arms “for the Promotion of Illegal Migration”

The prosecutor’s office of Catania  ordered on Sunday the immobilization of the Spanish ship “Open Arms”, chartered by the NGO Proactiva Open Arms for the rescue of migrants and refugees in danger in the Central Mediterranean. The Italian authorities have ordered the opening of an investigation into a possible crime of “promotion of illegal migration” to Italy for allegedly not having listened to the orders of the Libyan coastguards.

The vessel was involved in an incident with the Libyan coast guard for interfering in a rescue about 73 miles from the coast, far from its jurisdiction, in which, according to the NGO, they received threats from the Coast Guard. neighboring country.

According to the local newspaper “La Reppublica”, the Italian Police appeared on Sunday afternoon on the ship and demanded the documentation of it from its captain, Marc Reig. Reig demanded a court order, so he was taken to the police station along with the head of mission of the NGO, Anabel Montes. Subsequently, Reig was arrested, according to his lawyer, Rosa Emanuela Lo Faro, to the Sicilian edition of the aforementioned newspaper “La Reppublica”. The NGO has confirmed these facts to and is gathering more information about what happened.

“It is still only a crime hypothesis, the taking of the ship is preventive, but we are accused of criminal association and encourage illegal immigration for disobeying Libyans by not delivering women and children,” said Óscar Camps, director of the organization. , in your Twitter profile.

The boat of the Catalan organization docked this Saturday in the Italian port of Pozzallo after an incident with units of coastguard of Libya when it undertook a rescue to about 73 miles of the Libyan coast. “Open Arms” and the journalists who participated in the crossing denounced threats by the Libyan coastguards, which prevented most of the migrants from approaching the Spanish ship.

In a statement to which Efe has had access this Saturday, the Libyan maritime authority accused the Spanish humanitarian organization and the others that work in rescuing people from interfering in operations and violating their territorial waters, despite the fact that you are operating beyond the corresponding 25 miles.

Since last summer, the NGO has experienced several moments of tension with the Libyan coastguard during its rescue operations. In August,  his crew reported that one of their rescue boats of migrants and refugees was threatened by the coast guard, who shot in the air to get the boat to Italy.

Proactiva Open Arms is a Catalan organization born from a rescue and rescue company that decided to charter a boat in September 2015 to rescue migrants and refugees who risk their lives to reach Europe. Since then, and until March 2018, the organization has saved almost 59,000 people in its missions on the sea route linking Italy and Libya, as well as in the Aegean.

Another rescue boat was confiscated in summer

It is not the first time that the Italian authorities confiscate a humanitarian rescue ship. The German NGO Jugend Rettet, which until August was also dedicated to the rescue of migrants and refugees in the central Mediterranean, was accused by the prosecutor of Trapani, on the island of Sicily, of harboring on his boat people “delivered directly by the traffickers ”

Two days after refusing to sign the code of conduct with which Italy intended to control the rescue operations of the NGOs, its ship, Iuventa,  was confiscated by the authorities in the framework  of this investigation.

Several months have passed and your boat remains docked in the Sicilian port. On April 23, according to the NGO, a court in Rome will decide whether or not to return the ship to the organization. “We are sure that the accusations of the prosecution have no legal basis and that our crews have always complied with the applicable legislation and have worked with great professionalism,” they note on their Facebook page.

Also, in the framework of this investigation of Trapani prosecutors on the alleged “contacts” between NGOs and traffickers,  Italian security forces carried out a registration  in the ship ‘Vos Hestia’, of Save The Children, last October. the purpose of  ” documenting search  and rescue activities and communications linked to migrant trafficking”.

The NGO announced the end of its rescue work in the Mediterranean, although it disconnected the decision of the police operation. “We firmly reiterate that we have always acted in accordance with the law during the rescue mission and confirm, once again, that the organization is not being investigated,” the organization said in a statement.

More than 350 dead in the Mediterranean in 2018

Organizations that operate in the Mediterranean, including Proactiva Open Arms, have reiterated on several occasions that their work at sea is due to “the lack of response” from European countries to deaths in border waters. So far this year, 352 people have lost their lives in their attempt to reach the European coasts on the Central Mediterranean route.

Since the end of 2016, the Member States of the European Union (EU), particularly Italy, have implemented a series of measures aimed at closing migration routes through Libya and the Mediterranean crossing. At the beginning of the year, from Brussels  some 200 million euros were quantified to expand the formation of the Libyan coastguard    and for voluntary returns .

Libya accuses NGOs of interfering in the rescue and violating its waters

“Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants trapped in Libya are at the mercy of the Libyan authorities, the militias, the armed groups and the smugglers who usually work without problems together for a financial benefit,” the Europe director of Amnesty said last December. International


Source: El Diario