New Italian law restricting migrant rescue ‘could add to number of victims’

A new Italian law restricting migrant rescue NGOs could “increase the number of victims” and should be submitted for international expert opinion before coming into force, according to the Chair of the PACE Migration Committee Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE).

“I share the UNHCR’s concerns about the adoption by the Italian Parliament earlier this month of a law imposing significant restrictions on operations by NGOs who run migrant rescue ships,” said Ms Fiala.

“The law introduces strong penalties for transporting rescued migrants to Italian ports and allows vessels to be impounded. It adds to the dangers faced by migrants and refugees – who are already taking enormous risks in crossing the Mediterranean – and may increase the number of victims.”

She added: “Moreover, it contradicts recent PACE resolutions, in particular Resolution 2229 (2018) which calls on Council of Europe member States to ‘allow commercial and non-governmental ships to enter ports of coastal States, and assist those ships in their rescue operations’.”

“I call on the Italian Parliament to seek international expert opinion on this law from the Council of Europe and UNHCR before bringing it into force.”

Ms Fiala, Chair of the committee, also again urged the European community to at last show solidarity with Italy and share the burden of resettling migrants. “We should also tackle the root causes of migration and invest globally in efforts to limit climate change, which can lead to environmental disaster, combat corruption and create more development opportunities in Africa,” she concluded.