Pressemitteilungen von Andrej Hunko

Bundestag study: Cooperation with Libyan coastguard infringes international conventions

“Libya is unable to nominate a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), and so rescue missions outside its territorial waters are coordinated by the Italian MRCC in Rome. More and more often the Libyan coastguard is being tasked to lead these missions as on-scene-commander. Since refugees are subsequently brought to Libya, the MRCC in Rome may be infringing the prohibition of refoulement contained in the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. This, indeed, was also the conclusion reached in a study produced by the Bundestag Research Service. The European Union and its member states must therefore press for an immediate end to this cooperation with the Libyan coastguard”, says Andrej Hunko, European policy spokesman for the Left Party.

The Italian Navy is intercepting refugees in the Mediterranean and arranging for them to be picked up by Libyan coastguard vessels. The Bundestag study therefore suspects an infringement of the European Human Rights Convention of the Council of Europe. The rights enshrined in the Convention also apply on the high seas.

Andrej Hunko goes on to say, “For two years the Libyan coastguard has regularly been using force against sea rescuers, and many refugees have drowned during these power games. As part of the EUNAVFOR MED military mission, the Bundeswehr has also been cooperating with the Libyan coastguard and allegedly trained them in sea rescue. I regard that as a pretext to arm Libya for the prevention of migration. This cooperation must be the subject of proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights, because the people who are being forcibly returned with the assistance of the EU are being inhumanely treated, tortured or killed.

The study also emphasises that the acts of aggression against private rescue ships violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Nothing in that Convention prescribes that sea rescues must be undertaken by a single vessel. On the contrary, masters of other ships even have a duty to render assistance if they cannot be sure that all of the persons in distress will be quickly rescued. This is undoubtedly the case with the brutal operations of the Libyan coastguard.

The Libyan Navy might soon have its own MRCC, which would then be attached to the EU surveillance system. The European Commission examined this option in a feasibility study, and Italy is now establishing a coordination centre for this purpose in Tripoli. A Libyan MRCC would encourage the Libyan coastguard to throw its weight about even more. The result would be further violations of international conventions and even more deaths.”

Download the Research Services study on sea rescue in the Mediterranean:

Andrej Hunko, MdB 2018