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Amnesty International: Italian authorities must urgently allow rescued people to disembark in Catania

Amnesty International: Italian authorities must urgently allow rescued people to disembark in Catania

Responding to the authorities’ decision to refuse some people the ability to disembark in Catania, Sicily, and efforts to push them back to sea, Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director at the Europe Regional Office, said Italian authorities must urgently allow all people on ship to disembark as soon as possible.

Earlier today, the Italian authorities ordered the German-flagged rescue ship Humanity 1 to leave the port of Catania with 35 exhausted rescued men still on board. Italian authorities allowed the other 144 people rescued by Humanity 1 to disembark after a selection made on the basis of a brief physical examination by health officials sent on board by the authorities.

All the people rescued by Humanity 1 departed from Libya, were refugees and migrants are at constant risk of torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and other abuses. After attempting to cross the central Mediterranean on unsafe boats, they were rescued by the Humanity 1 and spent up to two weeks on the rescue vessel.

“The law of the sea is clear; a rescue ends when all those rescued are disembarked in a place of safety. There is no room for creative interpretations of the law when people are suffering and traumatized after risking their lives at sea,” said Hall.

“By forcing 35 people to remain on board the Humanity 1, Italy is not only violating its international obligations to disembark and protect them under both human rights and maritime law but also creating a risky situation which endangers the rescued people and the crew of Humanity 1. We urge the Italian authorities to allow all those still on board to disembark as soon as possible.”

“Hundreds of people on board other non-governmental organization rescue ships should also immediately be assigned a place of safety where they can disembark and receive assistance,” Hall pointed out.

“It is disgraceful that the Italian government continues to assist Libyan authorities in violating their people’s human rights. It adds insult to injury that the Italian government also refuses disembarkation to those who managed to leave that country.”

“Italy legitimately expects other EU Member States to share responsibility for people seeking asylum, but this does not justify imposing measures that only increase the suffering of already traumatized people,” according to the Amnesty International official.