The Italian government issued a new decree, which decides that non-governmental rescue vessels that bring migrants to Italy without permission can be fined up to 50,000 euros.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella has signed a bill prepared by Matteo Salvini, the Minister of the Interior and the leader of the Northern League, which was described as “declaring war against non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that save lives at sea.” The new decree strengthens the authority of the Ministry of the Interior and aims to put an end to NGO missions to save migrants in the central Mediterranean.
The Italian government has repeatedly declared the Italian waters closed to NGO rescue vessels. Because of these statements, several boats were stranded in the sea. About 1,150 migrants who tried to get to Italy from Libya died during the year.
Of the 10 NGO rescue boats operating in the Mediterranean, only one remains – Sea-Watch. Recently, the Libyan authorities have allocated a safe port for disembarking 53 people rescued at sea by Sea-Watch the day before. Sea-Watch rejected the offer and headed to Lampedusa (Italian island) with the rescued on board.
Libya is not a safe country. Forcibly returning rescued people to a country destroyed by war, to prison, and torture is a crime that we will never commit
Georgia Linardi Sea Watch spokesman
Sea-Watch, which several times tried to challenge Salvini’s closure policy of the Italian ports for NGOs, could be the first organization fined 50,000 euros.