After a complaint by survivors and crew members of the rescue ship Sea-Watch 3, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has recognized a violation of rights and imposed interim measures. Entering the 11th day of the unlawful blockade off Siracusa, Italy, Sea-Watch acknowledges the ruling but is forced to insist: interim measures are not enough, a solution is needed.
The ECHR requested the Italian Government “to take all necessary measures, as soon as possible, to provide all the applicants with adequate medical care, food, water and basic supplies as necessary. As far as the 15 unaccompanied minors are concerned, the Government are requested to provide adequate legal assistance (e.g. legal guardianship).”
The Sea-Watch 3, the last remaining civilian rescue ship in the central Mediterranean, had saved 47 people from a rubber dinghy, off the coast of Libya, on January 19, 2019. Since then Italian authorities have denied the ship and its rescuees the mandatory port of safety. Subsequently the health and safety situation on the ship continuously deteriorated.
“The hope after the rescue has turned into total depression and desperation”, says Dr. Frank Dörner, ship’s doctor of Sea-Watch 3. “Some people have stopped eating, shrink into themselves, others become emotionally unstable. We had to recourse to the use of tranquilizers for some, but can only treat this insufficiently here on the ship. Some people are so traumatized and depressed that we fear suicidal tendencies – we don’t know how much longer we can handle the situation. The psycho-physiological situation of these people is tied to the place they’re in and can’t escape. We’ve exhausted interim measures, we need a port of safety.”
“We welcome the decision from Straßburg as it shows the court acknowledging a violation of fundamental human rights, due to the unlawful blockade of the Sea-Watch 3”, says Johannes Bayer, Chairman of Sea-Watch. “But this is not enough: The ECHR demands bread and water. We demand an end to political hostage-taking.”