Published by Consiglio Direttivo Mediterranea | 18 / Oct / 2023

The 69 rescued people land in Trapani: Mare Jonio blocked and sanctioned for not handing over the shipwrecked to the Libyans

This morning our ship MARE JONIO disembarked in the port of Trapani the 69 people - including a whole family with three children aged 7, 5 and 2 months - rescued on Monday night in the central Mediterranean.

Immediately after disembarkation, the captain and the shipowner were summoned to the Port Authorities’ Office where, with the Guardia di Finanza and the Police of Trapani present, they were notified of the double application of the "Piantedosi" Decree Law of 2 January 2023: a fine of up to 10,000 euros and the administrative detention of the vessel for 20 days from today.

The MARE JONIO is accused of two offences: firstly, failing to follow the instructions of the MRCC Rome, which, after the first report of the vessel in distress, had instructed us to contact the so-called "Libyan Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre" and place ourselves under its authority; secondly, failing to ask the Libyan authorities for the designation of a port of disembarkation. The MARE JONIO is being heavily sanctioned for refusing to hand over 69 women, men and children who had just been rescued from the risk of drowning to the militias who would have taken them back to the detention centres from which they had fled.

"The Italian government is punishing us with imprisonment and fines. What do they think we should have done? - asks Sheila Melosu, the head of mission on board - perhaps return these people to the hands of their torturers and abusers? To commit a crime against humanity in violation of international law? I recall that commanders of Italian ships have been condemned by the Italian courts for obeying orders to return people rescued at sea to Libya, as in the case of the Asso Ventotto before the Court of Naples".

"We support with conviction the choice of our commander and our head of mission," adds Alessandro Metz, social shipowner of MARE JONIO, "the so-called Libyan coastguard is under investigation by the International Criminal Court, recently responsible for violent behaviour that endangered the lives of people at sea, several of its officers are considered traffickers or their accomplices, and Libya is considered an 'unsafe' port and country by the United Nations and the European Commission, precisely because of the countless human rights violations for which its authorities are responsible on a daily basis."

"We will never be complicit in crimes against humanity. Today we are celebrating life," concludes Laura Marmorale, President of MEDITERRANEANEA Saving Humans, "the best possible future in Europe for the people we have rescued and landed safely, we are celebrating the smiles of hope of the girls and boys on board. That is what matters, and that is why we face the consequences of our actions head on. Since what we have done is nothing other than strict compliance with maritime and international law, as well as our ethics as free men and women, we will appeal at every level against these unjust measures to block our ship".

Trapani, 18 October 2023

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