The Malta Independent 18 September 2021, Saturday

Sea Watch allowed to leave Malta, NGO says

Saturday, 20 October 2018, 15:00 Last update: about 4 years ago

The Sea Watch vessel has been allowed to leave Malta, nearly four months after the government had blocked NGO vessels from entering or leaving the country.

The NGO announced that it had finally been given permission to leave and will resume its rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

In a tweet, Sea Watch thanked all the people who expressed solidarity. 

"After three months of arbitrary seizure, Sea-Watch 3 received permission to leave Malta harbour this morning and is now on its way to Spain. There she will be fit again and prepared for future tasks," the NGO added

The decision to block Maltese ports came in late June both Italy and Malta refused to allow MV Lifeline, an NGO-owned vessel, to dock and take responsibility for the migrants on board after the vessel ignored orders to return the migrants to Libya.

While the stalemate was broken on 25 June after eight EU countries including Malta entered into an ad hoc agreement, promising to take a share of the migrants on board, Lifeline Captain Claus-Peter Reisch was charged with entering Maltese territorial waters illegally without proper registration or a licence. The prosecuting officers also requested that the court orders the confiscation of the vessel.

In a statement on 28 June, the Maltese government said that the country needed 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.”

“Given that there are investigations being carried out by independent authorities [MV Lifeline case], 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,” the statement read.

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