Italian Court Ruling Sends Worrying Signal to Humanitarian Operations in Mediterranean

MEDITERRANEAN SEA 2018 © Laurin Schmid/MSF

APRIL 24, 2018—An Italian court rejected an appeal today by the German humanitarian organization Jugend Rettet to release its search and rescue ship Iuventa, which was seized and impounded by Italian authorities in August 2017.

Karline Kleijer, emergency program manager for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), gave the following statement:

"MSF is dismayed to hear the news today that an Italian court has rejected an appeal to release the search and rescue boat Iuventa, which has been impounded by Italian authorities since August 2017. This ruling sets a concerning precedent for the future of humanitarian operations in the Mediterranean and sends a worrying signal—Europe will continue to criminalize humanitarian organizations conducting search-and-rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean rather than strengthening capacity to save lives at sea. It is unacceptable that migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers continue to drown at sea—with at least 11 people drowning last weekend alone. Saving lives is not a crime."