Blockade of Mare Liberum’s rescue vessels ended after court rules German decree on ship security violates EU-law. ‘Open Arms’ rescue vessel released after two weeks by Italian authorities. UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders condemns Italy’s crackdown on people saving lives at sea. People in distress rescued in Greek and Maltese SAR, five returned to Libya. Unimaginable horrors in Libya continue.

The administrative court in Hamburg has ruled in favor of German sea and rescue organisation Mare Liberum whose vessels where blocked in port because of alleged violations of a decree on ship security put in place by the German Federal Transport Ministry. Leaked e-mails from the Ministry revealed that officials had deliberately targeted rescue organisations. Last Friday judges found that the security decree was violating EU-law which ends the blockade of Mare Liberum’s vessels in the Aegean Sea. The ‘Open Arms’ rescue vessel was finally released by Italian authorities on Friday after being blocked at the port of Palermo for two weeks.

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, condemned the criminalisation of eleven human rights defenders who face criminal proceedings in Italy for having saved lives of people in distress at the Mediterranean Sea. Lawlor said “The Italian Government must publicly recognise the important role of human rights defenders in protecting the right to life of migrants and asylum seekers at risk in the Mediterranean and must end the criminalization of those who defend their human rights.”

59 persons who faced rough sea and bad weather off the island of Crete were rescued by the Hellenic Coast Guard last Thursday. Two persons who had been identified as the ship’s skippers were arrested for alleged human smuggling, the rest was accommodated in Hania. 38 persons in distress were rescued by Maltese authorities last Friday and brought to the island. A Home Affairs spokesperson emphasised their asylum claims would be processed instantly with the aim of returning the survivors who were said to be Moroccan nationals as soon as possible. On Monday, the NGO hotline Alarmphone was contacted by five persons in distress in Maltese SAR zone, with one of them in urgent need of medical treatment. After prompting Maltese authorities to rescue in vain, Alarmphone learnt the group was returned to Libya.

As UN and government officials confirmed on Wednesday, a Nigerian factory worker was burned alive in Libya’s capital Tripoli after three persons stormed the factory he was working at, poured gasoline on him and set him on fire. Three others were injured and had to be treated in hospital. UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric commented the incident saying: “This underscores, as if we needed to underscore yet again, how unsafe Libya is for migrants, for refugees, and how much the authorities on the ground still need to do to ensure the protection of these vulnerable people.” A report by the UN Human Rights Office published last week highlights the “unimaginable horrors” migrants face in Libya.

IOM Libya confirms that 11 bodies washed up on shore in Libya between 28 September and 5 October. Since the beginning of the year, about 9,225 people were returned to Libya, 196 died and 275 went missing.

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 Photo: ECRE