The Malta Independent 16 November 2018, Friday

’Saving lives is non-negotiable’ - Sea-Watch vessel detained in Malta as ports closed

Tuesday, 3 July 2018, 12:22 Last update: about 5 months ago

Sea-watch has claimed that their vessel has been detained in Malta, without any legal grounds by authorities, while people continue dying out at sea.

“Since the Sea-Watch 3 is not registered in the sportboat register, as is the case for LIFELINE and SEEFUCHS, but is listed in the royal shipping register as a Dutch seagoing vessel, fully entitled to fly the Dutch flag, the lack of permission to sail from Malta turns out not to be a registration issue, but a political campaign to stop civil rescue at sea,” a statement on the NGO’s website read.

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On 28 June, following the incident involving NGO vessel Lifeline, which has seen its captain charged with breaching international law, the Maltese government blocked any NGO vessel from entering or exiting Malta’s ports.

“Malta needs to ascertain that operations being conducted by entities using its port services and operating within the area of Maltese responsibility are in accordance with national and international rules,” the government said in a statement. 

“This includes, but is not solely limited to, the certification or registration of vessels involved. 

“Given that there are investigations being carried out by independent authorities, and until these issues are clarified, Malta cannot allow entities, whose structure might be similar to that being subject to investigations, to make use of Malta as their port of operations, and to enter or leave the said port. 

“This is also in view of judicial processes that might ensue, and in order for the Maltese authorities not to be considered to be approving of systems of operations that might eventually be found to be carried out in breach of their own and international rules,” the government statement said.

Pointing towards recent deaths in the Mediterranean, the NGO urged the “Maltese government to stop hindering rescue workers, as human lives are at acute risk.”

Sea Watch captain Pia Klemp said that “While we are hindered from leaving port, people are drowning. Any further death at sea is on the account of those preventing rescue from taking place. Saving lives at sea is non-negotiable"

 

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