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Italy: authorities must allow people on board refugee rescue ship to disembark

German-flagged ‘Humanity 1’ ordered to leave Sicilian port of Catania with 35 rescued people still on board 

‘The law of the sea is clear: a rescue ends when all those rescued are disembarked in a place of safety’ - Julia Hall

Responding to the Italian authorities’ refusal earlier today to allow a number of people on board the “Humanity 1” rescue vessel to disembark in Catania in Sicily - with the authorities attempting instead to push them back out to sea - Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s Europe Regional Office Deputy Director, said:

“We urge the Italian authorities to allow all those still on board to disembark as soon as possible. 

“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 traumatised after risking their lives at sea. 

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

“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 traumatised people.”

Ordered to leave port

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. The Italian authorities allowed another 144 people rescued by the vessel to disembark after a selection made on the basis of a brief physical examination by health officials sent on board by the authorities. All of those rescued by Humanity 1 had departed from Libya, where refugees and migrants are at constant risk of torture, arbitrary detention and other abuses. After attempting to cross the Mediterranean on unsafe boats, they were rescued by the Humanity 1 and spent up to two weeks on the ship.

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