Sea-Watch defends itself against unlawful blockade

25.10.2020 - Sea Watch

This post is also available in: German

Sea-Watch defends itself against unlawful blockade

Today, on Friday, Sea-Watch has filed an appeal against the blockade of the Sea-Watch 4 at the Administrative Court in Palermo. Italian authorities had blocked the rescue ship after a port state control on 19.09.2020 under flimsy grounds. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 20 people drowned this week alone while trying to flee across the central Mediterranean.

After an 11-hour inspection on 19.09.2020 by Italian authorities, reasons given for the blockade included that the Sea-Watch 4 had too many life jackets on board and that the sewage system was not designed for the number of possible rescued persons. It was only in July that the German authorities confirmed to Sea-Watch that the ship met all the German flag state’s safety requirements. Besides, Italian authorities ignored the fact that sea rescue as acute emergency aid is mandatory for all ships. However, these politically motivated inspections do not aim at increasing ship safety, but at preventing rescue operations in the Mediterranean. With the Sea-Watch 4, the fifth civilian rescue ship is hindered from returning back to operations through a port state control. With the appeal, Sea-Watch aims at the suspension and subsequent annulment of the detention decree, which is released against the actual European and international maritime regulations on the safety of navigation to which the Sea Watch 4 is fully complying.

“Unter dem Vorwand der Sicherheit wird mit fadenscheinigen Begründungen die Rettung von Menschen gezielt verhindert. Wir dürfen uns nicht daran gewöhnen, dass Rettungsschiffe unrechtmäßig blockiert werden und Europa Menschen zur Abschreckung ertrinken lässt. Wer für Menschenrechte kämpft, muss dies auf allen Ebenen tun. Deswegen haben wir gegen die willkürliche Festsetzung der Sea-Watch 4 Widerspruch eingelegt. Wir sind nicht nur moralisch im Recht, unsere Schiffe sind sicher und bereit zu retten”, Johannes Bayer, Vorstand von Sea-Watch.

Im von der EU-Kommission vorgestellten Migrationspakt und den darin enthaltenen ‘Empfehlungen zur Seenotrettung’ wird deutlich, dass Italiens bürokratische Schikane europäisiert werden soll. Im Namen angeblicher Sicherheit will die EU-Kommission die Arbeit von Rettungsschiffen erschweren, obwohl diese nationale wie internationale Registrierungsstandards längst erfüllen – wie es auch im Fall der Sea-Watch 4 vom Flaggenstaat bestätigt wurde. Die eigentliche Problematik wird weiter völlig außer Acht gelassen: Menschen ertrinken im Mittelmeer. Staaten müssen endlich ihrer Pflicht zur Rettung nachkommen, statt Willkür und Schikane gegen zivile Seenotrettungsorganisationen in Abkommen festzuschreiben.

“Es ist beschämend, dass die EU über ausufernde Regularien und Sicherheitsstandards für Seenotrettungsschiffe debattiert, während zeitgleich Menschen im Mittelmeer ertrinken, ohne dass EU-Staaten ihrer Pflicht zur Rettung nachkommen. Anstatt ‘Empfehlungen’ zur Erschwerung unserer Arbeit abzugeben, muss die Europäische Kommission sich dafür einsetzen, dass die Mitgliedstaaten geltendes Recht einhalten. Auch die deutsche Bundesregierung in ihrer Position als Ratsvorsitz sowie als Verhandlungspartner in der Rolle als Flaggenstaat, muss deutlich dazu Position beziehen und ihr Amt dafür nutzen, dass dem Sterbenlassen im Mittelmeer und der rassistischen Abschottungspolitik Europas ein Ende gesetzt wird”, so Marie Naass, Leiterin der politischen Öffentlichkeitsarbeit von Sea-Watch.

“Under the pretext of security, the rescue of people is deliberately prevented with flimsy justifications. We must not get used to rescue ships being illegally blocked and Europe letting people drown as a deterrent. Those who fight for human rights must do so at all levels. This is why we filed an appeal against the arbitrary blockade of Sea-Watch 4. We are not only morally right; our ships are safe and ready to rescue”, says Johannes Bayer, Chairman of Sea-Watch.

In the migration pact presented by the EU Commission and the ‘Recommendations for Sea Rescue’ contained therein, it is clear that Italy’s bureaucratic harassment is to be Europeanized. In the name of alleged safety, the EU Commission wants to make the work of rescue ships more difficult, even though they have long since fulfilled national and international registration standards – as was confirmed by the flag state in the case of Sea-Watch 4. The actual problem is still being completely ignored: People are drowning in the Mediterranean. States must finally fulfill their duty to rescue instead of imposing arbitrariness and harassment against civil sea rescue organizations in EU agreements.

“It is shameful that the EU is debating excessive regulations and safety standards for sea rescue ships while at the same time people are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea without EU states fulfilling their duty to rescue. Instead of making ‘recommendations’ to make our work more difficult, the European Commission must ensure that the Member States comply with the existing laws. The German Federal Government in its position as Presidency of the Council and as a negotiating partner in its role as flag state, must take a clear position on this and use its office to put an end to the dying in the Mediterranean as well as the racist isolation policy of Europe”, says Marie Naass, Head of Advocacy of Sea-Watch.

Categories: Europe, Human Rights, International issues, Migrants, Press Releases
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