Sea-Watch has won its appeal in an Italian civil court against the unlawful seizure of its ship Sea-Watch 3, which has not been allowed to sail since 29 June. Today’s verdict confirms that there is no legal basis for the authorities to keep our ship in port, an act Sea-Watch has long claimed was solely politically motivated. Sea-Watch is beginning preparations to resume rescue operations as soon as possible.
Sea-Watch will return to the Search and Rescue area north of the Libyan coast at earliest opportunity, pending necessary logistical preparations of crew and ship.
After a long history of being subjected to criminalisation, intimidation and blockade, today’s court decision is a confirmation of the legality of our work, which Sea-Watch expects all EU member states to acknowledge and respect as a minimum. “Sea-Watch and other civil rescuers are the only ones upholding the law, which was proven again today. We look forward to leaving, and potentially returning to, Italy’s ports without further complication or aggression” says Johannes Bayer, Chairman of the Board.
At least 1,000 people are believed to have lost their lives attempting to cross the Central Mediterranean Sea this year. Thousands more have illegally been intercepted and returned to civil-war torn Libya. Throughout 2019, Sea-Watch has been present in the Mediterranean Sea with its search aircraft Moonbird, witnessing these grave violations of international law and human rights.
Now, after extended periods of being hindered by European state authorities abusing their powers, Sea-Watch can also resume its lawful and life-saving work with the ship Sea-Watch 3, where it is urgently needed.