24 December 2020 – Yesterday, the Regional Administrative Court of Palermo ordered the referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union of the appeals filed by Sea-Watch against the administrative detentions affecting our vessels, Sea-Watch 3 and Sea-Watch 4.
Thus, the Administrative Court of Sicily asks the Court to clarify the doubts raised by us regarding the interpretation of European and international laws, particularly regarding the legitimacy of Italy’s application to our vessels of the European directive governing port State control.
We express our satisfaction at this recognition of a European dimension to the issue we raised and that the doubts about the legitimacy of the inspections that led to the detention of our ships have been extended to all humanitarian vessels operating in the Mediterranean.
In its order of 23 December, the Regional Administrative Tribunal asked the European Court to rule on the legitimacy of the application of Directive 2009/16/EC to any humanitarian ship flying a foreign flag.
We hope that the European Court of Justice’s clarification will finally end the illegitimate practice of administrative detentions used by the Italian authorities to block NGO ships.
According to the International Organisation for Migration, almost 300 people have died or are considered missing on the Libyan route in the Central Mediterranean since September, when our second vessel, Sea-Watch 4, was also detained.
“While we are forced to stay put, waiting for a decision, the authorities do not provide any alternative to our absence, leaving the Mediterranean Sea to remain practically without search and rescue assets and people to die waiting for the time of justice”, says Sea-Watch spokesperson Giorgia Linardi.
In the meantime, we are waiting for the Regional Administrative Court to re-evaluate our request for precautionary suspension of the detention orders preventing Sea-Watch3 and Sea-Watch4 from returning to the sea to rescue lives.
The Regional Administrative Court has postponed its decision on our request to suspend the detentions until 26 January, while waiting to know whether the European Court will apply the accelerated procedure or not.