Ship was bound by convention – Sea Eye lawyer

Sea-Eye

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The lawyer representing the German Rescue NGO Sea Eye has said that the rescue of 13 migrants from a floundering rubber boat was done because the crew was bound by conventions to assist people in distress at sea.

During the court session, Gianluca Cappitta explained that the crew had started the rescue operation on the morning of August 31st, just as they contacted the relevant maritime authorities, the Maltese Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre.

This is understood to have been around 20 minutes following the deployment of one of Sea Eye’s RHIBs, to assess the circumstances of those on the rubber boat.

Cappitta said that the NGO was conforming to conventions like the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and others which oblige assistance to those in danger at sea.

The captain explained that at just after 9.30AM, the Maltese authorities told them that because of the vessel’s direction towards Lampedusa, it was not therefore a rescue and simply the conveying of 13 people from one vessel to another. From then on, they were told not to take those rescued to their vessel. He chose to rescue them due their worsening circumstances.

From then on, the vessel was prevented from entering port in Malta because it was seen as having defied Maltese orders.

They responded to the claim by the authorities as been wrong and that it was conforming to regulations, these being defined as ‘an operation to retrieve persons in distress, provide for their initial medical or other needs and deliver them to a place of safety.’

Declined their responsibility

Sea Eye, had earlier announced that it would be lodging a complaint with the Maltese courts over its legal responsibilities over Search and Rescue.

The complaint comes after the NGO explained that the Maltese Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre and the Armed Forces of Malta, had initially agreed to take 13 people rescued by the NGO but a few hours later, would not be taking responsibility.

Yesterday, the NGO appealed to the Prime Minister not to view responsibility like a light switch that can be turned off and on at will.

‘Responsibility cannot be used like a light switch’ – Sea Eye

In their statement, Sea Eye argued that the Maltese authorities had been refusing to take coordinating responsibility over the past 5 days but claimed that the Maltese MRCC had not refused to acknowledge that the fact that the situation was taking place within their Search and Rescue area.

Two immigrants in need of medical assistance brought to Malta

A spokesperson for the Armed Forces of Malta confirmed to Newsbook.com.mt that yesterday two young asylum seekers had been taken from the ‘Alan Kurdi’ to Malta because, according to the Sea Eye statement, they were considering suicide. The head of operations explained that both asylum seekers had to be prevented from jumping into the sea to swim to shore.