PACE has said to Europe’s governments: ‘It is your duty not to let people drown in the Mediterranean’
While welcoming the commitment of NGOs to carrying out sea rescues, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has insisted that “it is the duty of States not to let people drown in the Mediterranean”.
In a resolution approved last week, based on a report by Domagoj Hajduković (Croatia, SOC), PACE said states should “place the rescue of men, women and children in the Mediterranean above political and other considerations”. While migratory flows are down since 2015, “the situation can still be described as an emergency”, it added.
It pointed out that the EU’s Triton and Sophie Operations had saved over 200 000 lives since 2014, but urged the Union to launch a new rescue mission. The EU’s focus on border control and processing asylum claims to countries outside its borders had “not yielded convincing results”, the parliamentarians said.
They welcomed “the emerging agreement of some EU member States on the relocation of people rescued at sea by NGOs and others” – a French-led proposal understood to have gained the support of Croatia, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Portugal so far – and urged more countries to join the proposed agreement, which is due to be discussed at a meeting of EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Luxembourg this week.
Meanwhile, the EU should accelerate its work on revising the Dublin Regulation, and try to build on the “current positive debate among member States willing to share the responsibility for reception and integration of refugees and asylum-seekers”.
States should also allow NGOs to carry out their life-saving missions in the Med, and refrain from “stigmatising” their work. The captains of all such rescue vessels should be able to disembark migrants and refugees in the nearest port of safety, as provided for in international maritime law.