Sea Watch 3, press note from the Prime Minister’s Office

Dalla Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri:

The case of the Sea Watch 3 is now under the scrutiny of the European Court of Human Rights, which was seized by the ship’s captain and by the head of the mission.

Italy believes that the jurisdiction over the case at hand belongs to the Netherlands insofar as it is the flag State of the ship that carried out the rescue operations in international waters. Therefore, tomorrow Italy will file a brief with the Court, in which it claims Dutch jurisdiction, arguing lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In other words, it will claim that, pursuant to national and international law, it is not Italy that has to respond in this case.

Italy also reaffirmed the reckless behaviour of the Sea Watch which, with rough sea conditions, instead of seeking shelter along the Tunisian coast, which was approximately 40 miles away and is universally considered to be a safe harbour, ventured out on a journey of several hundred miles, putting at risk the safety of the migrants on board.

In any case Italy, as of now, once the jurisdiction is recognised to belong to the Netherlands, is willing to offer a humanitarian corridor to enable the transfer of the migrants to the Netherlands. In the meantime, we have expressed our total willingness to offer our assistance, should it be requested, by providing two patrol vessels of the Coast Guard and one of the Guardia di Finanza, which are already in the area ready to intervene.

We have already provided, relief supplies and the necessary medical assistance, and are willing to continue in this effort even if, at the time being, we have been informed that there is a medical team of confidence on board the ship.

There is still an unanswered question: was the aim of the Sea Watch’s actions to save shipwrecked migrants and take them to the first safe harbour (Tunisia) or was it to raise an international case to attract the attention of the mass media?

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