Today, a judge in The Hague ruled on the appeal lodged by Sea-Watch. The Court’s judgment acknowledges that the negative consequences of omitting a transitional period for the more stringent safety regulations on Sea-Watch’s ship, namely that people may drown due to limited rescue capacity in the Mediterranean Sea, outweigh the purpose of the new regulations. Therefore, Sea-Watch will have until 31 December 2019 to apply the new policy to its ship.
Today’s judgment also emphasises that the actions of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, who imposed the new safety requirements on Sea-Watch without granting a transitional period, were unlawful and contrary to the principles of proportionality and the requirement of due diligence. The essence of the appeal was the judgment of the Court in preliminary proceedings of 7 May, in which Sea-Watch was not granted a transitional period for the application of new strict safety requirements.
The trial shows that Sea-Watch is resisting the arbitrary behaviour of states. For Sea-Watch, this is not only a victory in obtaining a transitional period for the application of changes to our ship; it is also a victory in the sense that a civil player has held a government accountable for its deadly actions.
However, this victory in the Netherlands underlines the battle that Sea-Watch is waging elsewhere. The Sea-Watch 3, is still under probationary confiscation by the Italian authorities, and there too we are fighting for its early release in order to resume our monitoring and rescue mission as soon as possible. The criminalisation of civil organisations that carry out life-saving work in the Mediterranean Sea is a systematic strategy employed by several Member States of the European Union, and in which the Netherlands is also actively involved. The fact that this new legislation is not about security but about migration policy became painfully clear earlier this year by hundreds of documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. Our opposition to the EU’s deadly policy and abuse of power continues.