Sea-Eye successfully frees rescue ship ALAN KURDI

ALAN KURDI in the Mediterranean

Maritime law expert speaks of illegal measures against Sea-Eye

  • Detention of the ALAN KURDI ends
  • Expert on maritime law cites Italy’s measures as unlawful
  • Sea-Eye considers appeal
  • 55,000 supporters demanded release
  • Church alliance bears blockade costs
  • ALAN KURDI may go to Spain

Since 5 May the Italian coast guard had detained the ALAN KURDI in the port of Palermo. Previously the ship had saved 150 lives in the international waters off Libya. After an eleven-day blockade and a subsequent two-week quarantine of the crew, the Italian coast guard claimed to have detected “serious safety deficiencies”.

As the German Ministry of Transport stated on 7 May already: “In the view of the German flag state administration, the irregularities detected by the Italian authorities do not concern serious safety deficiencies”.

The Italian argumentation aimed in particular at the allegedly inadequate sewage system, toilets and waste disposal facilities on the ship.

Expert on maritime law cites Italy’s measures as unlawful

Maritime law expert Valentin Schatz (Institute for the Law of the Sea and for Maritime Law, University of Hamburg) advised Sea-Eye together with other experts in the past weeks.

“The technical requirements imposed on the ALAN KURDI by the Italian Ministry of Transport do not correspond to the class of ship legally determined by the German authorities and disregard the exemptions for sea rescue in the relevant international conventions for the protection of the marine environment and the safety of maritime traffic. The unlawfulness of the Italian measures was challenged by the responsible office for ship safety of the German flag state authority against the Italian authorities, who were not impressed. The Federal Government should be aware that with such illegal detentions of German ships, Italy is also violating the rights of the Federal Republic of Germany as the flag state of ALAN KURDI, which are guaranteed under international law, and is damaging the reputation of the German flag,” states Schatz.

Sea-Eye will therefore promptly examine all possible legal remedies in order to provide clarity.

55,000 supporters demanded release

With the petition “Free the Ships” Sea-Eye demanded the release of the rescue ships ALAN KURDI and the Spanish ship AITA MARI, which was also detained in Palermo. More than 55,000 people joined this demand in a petition. Leoluca Orlando, Mayor of Palermo, personally appealed to the Italian Minister of Transport to ensure that the ships were not stopped.

Church alliance bears blockade costs

Overall, the blockade in the port of Palermo caused financial damage of around €70,000. Around € 20,000 are due for a special fee which is charged to “non-commercial ships” due to the corona crisis. The sea rescuers from Regensburg can bear the high costs thanks to financial support from the “United 4 Rescue” alliance initiated by the EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany).

ALAN KURDI may go to Spain

The ALAN KURDI is free again and is now heading for the Spanish coast. As Italy continues to maintain its legal position, Sea-Eye, in cooperation with the German authorities, will now determine the circumstances under which the vessel can sail on its next mission without being detained again by the Italian authorities.

“We are free, but not free from further trouble. We were threatened that we would surely be detained again,” states Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye.

At a meeting in Rome, on June 10, Sea-Eye was able to agree with the Italian coast guard that the ALAN KURDI may leave the port of Palermo if the flag state consents and the Spanish authorities agree to the arrival of the ALAN KURDI. The German and Spanish authorities eventually agreed.

“We are grateful to the Spanish and German authorities for helping us to free ourselves from this devastating stranglehold,” states Isler further.

The legal uncertainty caused by Italy is now thwarting the ALAN KURDI’s planned deployment in July. Another, even longer blockade could ruin the association from Regensburg.

“We will find a solution, as we have succeeded time and again, and are determined to save human lives again soon,” concludes Isler.

In order to be able to defend ourselves against the measures before an Italian administrative court and to prepare the next mission, we are dependent on your donation. Because Sea-Eye’s work is only possible through donations. Will you help us?