The Dutch-flagged migrant-ferry vessel Sea-Watch 3 is owned by the NGO Sea-Watch, which has its headquarters in Berlin. The organization’s funding sources are unclear — it has actually held fundraisers to pay for its reconnaissance aircraft, but this is obviously not the only means by which it pays its operating expenses.
Last month the Sea-Watch 3 was impounded by the Italian government after one of its uninvited appearances at an Italian port bearing a load of “refugees”. Then, on June 1, it was released from custody. And now it’s back again, testing the mettle of Italian authorities, and in particular that of Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, by defying the ban on migrant-ferry vessels and pushing on through to attempt a landing in Lampedusa.
Below are excerpts from two articles about the Sea-Watch 3. First, from Yahoo News:
Rescue Ship With 42 Migrants Defies Italy Order to Stay Out
MILAN (AP) — A private sea rescue ship carrying 42 migrants it took aboard off Libya two weeks ago entered Italian waters Wednesday despite an explicit ban from Italy’s interior minister, who has threatened to seize the ship operated by a German aid organization and to arrest its captain.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said the captain of the Sea-Watch 3 broke the law both by disobeying direct orders not to cross into Italy’s territorial waters and by flouting measures that bar the migrant rescue ships of nonprofit groups from entering Italian jurisdiction.
“The right to defend our borders is sacred,” Salvini said.
And from ANSA:
Italy: Sea Watch Ignores Stop Order, Salvini Blasts ‘Hostile Act’
Migrant rescue ship in front of Lampedusa
(ANSA) – Palermo, June 26 – The Sea-Watch 3 migrant-rescue ship on Wednesday defied an order from a tax police motor launch to stop and pressed on until it came close to the port of Lampedusa.
Carabinieri police were lined up on the quay.
Captain Carola Rackete, who has said she will land the 42 migrants on board despite a docking ban, risks a 50,000 euro fine and the impounding of the vessel.
She could also be probed for favouring illegal immigration.
The migrants have been at sea since they were rescued two weeks ago as Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini refused permission to dock in Italy. Salvini said Wednesday that the ship had committed a hostile act and he called on the Netherlands to take in the migrants on board. The search-and-rescue ship flies the Dutch flag, although it is run by a German NGO. “The Dutch government cannot pretend nothing has happened,” said League leader Salvini, who has spearheaded the government’s tough stance of refusing access to NGO-run search-and-rescue ships to Italy’s ports. “A ship flying the flag of the Netherlands has ignored the bans (on entry) and the orders to stop and it is heading to Lampedusa. “It’s a provocation and a hostile act. I had written to my Dutch counterpart and I’m happy that the Italian embassy in The Hague is taking a formal step with the government of the Netherlands. “Italy deserves respect. We expect the Netherlands to take in to immigrants on board”.
|00:02||The Sea Watch, as far as I am concerned, will not enter Italy, not even by Christmas or New Year’s.|
|00:06||I have already said, because 13 days have already passed,|
|00:10||they might have left and returned to the Netherlands in these 13 days,|
|00:13||if they really had the health of the “guests” (passengers) on board at heart.|
|00:19||Evidently it is taking a political position. Today I read a curious interview in which|
|00:25||they didn’t want to go to Tunisia, for whatever motive is not well understood.|
|00:28||Malta told them no, and therefore they arrived in Italy.|
|00:32||I repeat, it is a Dutch ship and a German NGO.|
|00:36||The problem should be resolved among Amsterdam, Berlin and Brussels.|
|00:40||This afternoon we are awaiting the judgment of the European Court|
|00:44||of Human Rights in Strasbourg.|
|00:47||I await it with full respect. Whatever is the judgment,|
|00:52||my attitude doesn’t change one comma.|
|00:55||The queen of Sweden can come,|
|00:59||but as far as I am concerned, this ship is an illegal ship,|
|01:02||a pirate ship, an illegal ship. We have also had|
|01:06||a breakdown with the Dutch embassy, which has a curious attitude,|
|01:11||because they say, in effect, we are right, but it isn’t their problem.|
|01:15||Understand that if they are flying the Dutch flag, it is their problem.|
|01:22||But I repeat, this is a case in point event in Libyan waters,|
|01:28||with authorized ports in other countries, a Dutch flag, and German NGO.|
|01:32||It is actually Italy that is least involved of all. We have given demonstrations|
|01:36||of absolute loyalty and humanity,|
|01:41||allowing the unloading of the sick, newborns, and pregnant women.|
|01:47||Enough. Enough. Therefore, whatever Strasbourg tells us,|
|01:51||we, with extreme serenity, will continue forward with this course|
|01:56||that saves lives, and I repeat, after 13 days, they could have gone|
|02:01||anywhere. The fact that they are there|
|02:05||is a clear political provocation, but a state cannot be dictated to on the choice of immigration|
|02:09||by an NGO that doesn’t respect the rules.
Hat tips for the articles: Reader from Chicago and Insubria.