Court ends six-month impounding of Sea-Watch 3

Sea Watch 3

Sea Watch 3 has been cleared to set sai after three months holed up in the port of Licata. The ship, property of the humanitarian NGO Sea-Watch has won its appeal to the Civil Court of Palermo. Its vessel, Sea-Watch 3 and has been freed and allowed to continue operations after being impounded for six whole months.

Sea-Watch 3 transports migrants in distress to safe ports in the Mediterranean.

On Twitter, the NGO posted that the ship finally set sail for its next mission, at around 11.00 am. It added that “sitting on a blocked rescue ship for months while people tried to cross, and died, was unacceptable.”

Chairman of the Association Johannes Bayer stated that “hundreds of people have drowned at sea while the Sea-Watch 3 was unfairly held in port by Italian authorities.”

Frontex hindered effective rescue

The organisation has recently criticised Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

It said that although the budget is growing every year, Frontex is hindering effective rescue at sea instead of contributing to saving human lives.

AFM silent about migrants rescued in Maltese SAR

Last week, migrants rescued in the Maltese search and rescue zone disembarked in Italy after Maltese authorities did not allow them to disembark. This was stated by the humanitarian NGO which organised the rescue itself, SOS Mediterranee.

When reached out to the Armed Forces of Malta, a spokesperson for the AFM did not confirm the incident and refused to give a comment. then emailed the AFM a few hours later, asking the following questions:

  • Why was the vessel carrying the migrants made to disembark in Italy and not in Malta?  The NGO posted that it notified the Maltese and Italian authorities on Friday. This was prior to the ship’s decision to head to Sicily to seek shelter from the severe weather conditions in the Mediterranean.
  • A woman who had been under close observation for 48 hours in the Ocean Viking’s clinic is believed to have been medically evacuated by Italian authorities, together with her one-year-old child and her sister. This means that she was already under observation when the Maltese authorities were notified. Why was she not evacuated at that time?

Up till the publication of this article, the AFM has not responded to the questions asked.