#CrimesOfMalta: The Maltese Rescue Coordination Centre refuses its duty to coordinate rescues of people in distress at sea in its own search and rescue zone, deliberately accepting the risk of endangering human life.
17 to 19 June 2020:
A boat with 25 people on board with no life vests is drifting in the Maltese Search and Rescue zone for several days. Both the Italian and Maltese authorities are informed by our Moonbird crew about the people in distress, but neither of them send a ship to the rescue.On the third day, our crew tries five times to call the Maltese Rescue Coordination Centre that is responsible for the case. None of the calls leads to an exchange of information, because the officer on duty is either “busy” or directly ends the call by hanging up.
Eventually, the people are illegally rescued by the Tunisian Coast Guard under the coordination of Frontex and brought to Tunisia. However, Tunisia cannot be considered a Place of Safety due to the absence of an asylum system, repeated serious human rights violations against certain groups and the risk of chain refoulement of asylum seekers.
Malta’s non-assistance, especially regarding a distress case in its own Search and Rescue zone, violates international and especially maritime law.
In the series #CrimesOfMalta, we reconstruct 10 human rights violations in 10 weeks, which were also witnessed by our airplane Moonbird.