Logo Assembly Logo Hemicycle

Zero tolerance for deaths in the Mediterranean Sea, PACE says

Adopting a resolution on “The left-to-die boat: actions and reactions”, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, meeting in plenary session in Strasbourg, today acknowledged important efforts by member States, Italy in particular, towards saving more lives at sea but said a number of concerns remain, “including failures to co-operate, define and admit responsibility and learn lessons”.

The adopted text, based on a report by Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC) calls for “zero tolerance towards lives lost at sea”, recommending clear, binding and common standards for search and rescue (SAR) operations and disembarkation, further commitment to assisting coastal states to increase resources for SAR and to end all disincentives for private vessels to conduct rescues. The Assembly also called for the creation of safe legal channels to Europe through further harmonisation of common asylum procedures and solidarity.

A second report by Christopher Chope (United Kingdom, EDG) on “the large-scale arrival of mixed migratory flows on Italian shores”, debated jointly with Ms Strik’s report, commended the “improved efforts by the Italian authorities to respond to emergencies”, in particular through the Mare Nostrum operation, while it underlined that there are yet further structural challenges within the Italian and European migration policies in dire need of action to make the systems fit for purpose.

The adopted text calls on the Italian authorities to implement a comprehensive set of measures to deal with mixed migratory arrivals and to address reception, humanitarian and protection needs in the long run.

The text underlines in particular the need for the Italian authorities to secure a reliable, fair and transparent system to identify migrants immediately after their arrival, and to step up its efforts in identifying, arresting and bringing to justice traffickers and smugglers. It further pleads for European authorities to redefine their immigration policies and regulations and to support them with adequate financial and operational means.

The parliamentarians welcomed the announced priority given by the Italian authorities to the development of a common European response to arrivals of mixed migratory flows on European southern shores during its forthcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The Assembly also recommended that the Committee of Ministers considers ways of introducing a new international crime, possibly defined as a crime against humanity, when a person receives a financial benefit for transporting people in a vessel which is unsafe for the purpose and which may cause death or injury at sea. It should also consider the need for an extensive review of the Dublin Regulation and its implementation.