Joint press release by Sea-Eye, German Doctors, Refugee Rescue and United4Rescue
Organisations demand: EU states must end policy of deterrence immediately
On Saturday, 21.05.22, the preliminary hearing against 21 sea rescuers will begin in Trapani, Sicily. They are accused of “aiding and abetting unauthorised entry into Italy”. Numerous organisations express their solidarity with the defendants in the run-up to the trial. On Saturday, a day of action in Germany will take place, where Sea-Eye groups as well as activists from Seebrücke and other organisations will take to the streets.
On the occasion of the preliminary hearing Sea-Eye, German Doctors, Refugee Rescue and United4Rescue, who conduct sea rescue operations as partner organisations with the rescue ship SEA-EYE 4, have published a joint statement.
21 sea rescuers have been criminally charged for saving people from drowning. These measures must never become the normality. It must always hurt us deeply in our hearts, because otherwise, we lose nothing less than the human right to life.
At the preliminary hearing on the 21st of May, 2022, the sea rescuers will sit in the dock as a deterrent because Trapani is not about “aiding and abetting unauthorised entry into Italy”. The entire process with its 5-year investigation pursues only one goal: deterrence. Its aim would be that seafarers think twice before rescuing fleeing people from distress at sea.
After EU member states ceased their sea rescue operations in the Mediterranean in 2015, they began to block or obstruct the life-saving work of sea rescue organisations. Thus, rescue ships were detained and the disembarkation of rescued people was delayed or denied. The fact that European rescue coordination centres ignore distress calls from people in distress at sea and refuse their duty to coordinate rescue operations has become a sad reality.
All these measures are part of a cruel policy of closure that does not shy away from criminalising and prosecuting sea rescuers. The 21 defendants face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of €15,000 per rescued person.
Sea-Eye, German Doctors, Refugee Rescue and United4Rescue strongly oppose this inhumane policy of deterrence and demand the immediate termination of the proceedings against the accused sea rescuers.
Furthermore, it’s not only sea rescuers that are on the European dock. Again and again, refugees in Italy, Greece and other EU countries are accused of “aiding and abetting unauthorised entry into Italy”. In Italy alone, at least 2,500 people have been detained since 2013.
Therefore we demand that the detained refugees be released and that EU member states immediately end their anti-human course of isolation and deterrence. The EU must finally support and protect people on the run instead of criminalising them and locking them up in overcrowded camps.
To put an end to the deaths in the Mediterranean, Sea-Eye, German Doctors, Refugee Rescue and United4Rescue call for the introduction of a European sea rescue programme and the creation of legal and safe passages.
Sea-Eye, German Doctors, Refugee Rescue and United4Rescue