PACE launches inquiry into responsibility for lives lost in the Mediterranean

Strasbourg, 23.06.2011 – The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has launched an inquiry into who is responsible for the more than 1,000 “boat people” thought to have perished in the Mediterranean since January 2011 while trying to reach European soil from North Africa.

Following a request for an inquiry signed by 34 members of the Assembly, PACE’s Migration Committee today appointed Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC) to prepare a report on “Lives lost in the Mediterranean sea: who is responsible?”.

“There have been allegations that migrants and refugees are dying after their appeals for rescue have been ignored,” said Mrs Strik. “Such a grave allegation must be urgently investigated.”

“I intend to look into the manner in which these boats are intercepted – or not – by the different national coastguards, the EU’s border agency FRONTEX, or even military vessels. I also intend to speak to witnesses directly involved in reported incidents, and put questions to national authorities, the UNHCR, FRONTEX and NATO, among others.”

On 8 May, the Guardian newspaper reported that 61 boat people escaping from Libya had died after their appeals for rescue had been ignored by armed forces operating in the Mediterranean. The following day PACE President Mevlüt Çavusoglu called for “an immediate and comprehensive enquiry” into the incident.