26th February 2019
London. UK. Human Rights at Sea has published a new Briefing Note on the ‘Legal and Policy Matters Arising from the Increased Criminalisation of the Civil Society Search and Rescue Activities in the Mediterranean’. This is the second publication on the issue of the increasing levels of criminalisation of civil society search and rescue (SAR) organisations.
Human Rights at Sea was the first maritime-focused human rights organisation in 2016 to raise awareness of potential criminalisation of SAR volunteers in its publication: Volunteer Maritime Rescuers: Awareness of Criminalisation. This was released in response to the then perceived and emerging threat by some European Union Member States to start to criminalise civil society rescuers then undertaking lawful and necessary humanitarian relief work in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean.
The Briefing Note follows up from the recent Human Rights at Sea independent review of the case of the de-flagging of the M/V Aquarius: ‘Human Rights and International Rule of Law Ramifications of the De-Flagging of M/V Aquarius Dignitus’.
The Briefing Note highlights, through examples, the current and worrying trend in some EU Member States to actively seek to criminalise citizens acting as humanitarians, and who provide life-saving assistance to those in distress at sea.
There is a current and worrying trend in some EU Member States to criminalise EU citizens acting as humanitarians who provide lawful assistance to those in distress at sea.