EU: Italy's proposed code of conduct for Mediterranean NGOs "threatens life-saving operations"

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The European Commission asked Italy to draw up a "Code of Conduct" for NGOs carrying out search and rescue in the Mediterranean: See full-text of: Code of Conduct for NGOs involved in migrant's rescue operation at sea (pdf). The organisation Human Rights at Sea has said the proposed code "threatens life-saving search and rescue operations".

All NGOs operating in the Med are required to sign and obey the Code:

"Failure to sign this Code of Conduct or failure to comply with its obligations may result in the refusal by the Italian State to authorize the access to national ports, subject to compliance with the existing international conventions."

And see: Hearing in LIBE Committee tomorrow (11.07.17) on search and rescue activities in the Mediterranean

At the request of the GUE/NGL group, there will be an exchange of views on search and rescue activities in the Mediterranean during the LIBE Committee agenda this Wednesday July 12 from 9.00 till 10.45am. The exchange of views will focus on the current search and rescue situation, including the essential role NGOs have been playing and concerns regarding the provision of training, equipment and support to the Libyan coast guard.

See: Agenda (pdf)

Also: Letter from: Frontex Executive Director to Miguel Urban Crespo MEP (pdf): Frontex denies it has accused NGOs of colluding with smuggling.. It goes to say that "all those operating at sea need to work together, collect information and share it with the Italian authorities and EU agencies" to collect evidence for arrest and prosecution.

And see: Action Plan for Central Mediterranean: mandatory code of conduct for NGOs, massive expansion of detention and hotspots in Italy (Statewatch News Online, 5 July 2017)

UPDATE: 12.7.17

Planned EU NGO Code of Conduct threatens life-saving search and rescue operations (Human Rights at Sea, link):

"Human Rights at Sea continues to raise it concerns about the new direction being taken by the European Commission and some Member States to restrict the freedom of action of humanitarian actors, including European citizens, working to save life at sea in the Mediterranean. This is as an unintended consequence of the removal of the Ghadaffi regime in 2011 and regional instability compounded by continuous mixed migration flows throughout Africa, especially via the Sahel region.

Human Rights at Sea has received a leaked copy of the proposed Code of Conduct which contains a distinct lack of information and explicit reference to the need to save life at sea, thereby upholding bedrock European humanitarian principles and norms.

Moreover, it focuses on using civil society search and rescue (SAR) NGOs effectively as an extension of the limited border force assets, thereby interfering with their independence and well-established humanitarian principles as clearly laid out in the existing voluntary Code of Conduct drafted by NGOs earlier this year."

EU: Draft Code for Sea Rescues Threatens Lives (Human Rights Watch, link):

"Thousands more refugees and migrants could be at risk of dying at sea if a flawed code of conduct for nongovernmental groups conducting search and rescue in the central Mediterranean is put into practice, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today after reviewing a leaked draft of the document.

On July 12, 2017, the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament will hold an “exchange of views on Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean” between MEPs, the Italian coastguard, the EU border management agency FRONTEX, and nongovernmental organizations.

“Perversely, the proposed code of conduct for NGOs saving lives in the Mediterranean could put lives at risk,” said Iverna McGowan, director of the Amnesty International, European Institutions Office. “Attempts to restrict NGO search and rescue operations risk endangering thousands of lives by limiting rescue boats from accessing the perilous waters near Libya.”"

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