Italy failed to protect the ‘right to life’ of migrants who died when the boat they were on capsized in the Mediterranean Sea in 2013.
Italy has failed to protect the “right to life” of more than 200 migrants and refugees who died when the boat they were on capsized in the Mediterranean more than seven years ago, people said. independent human rights experts working with the United Nations.
The Human Rights Committee said on Wednesday that Italy “had failed to respond quickly to various distress calls from the sinking boat, which was carrying more than 400 adults and children”.
He also called on the Italian authorities to “open an independent and timely investigation and prosecute those responsible” for these deaths.
The boat left Zuwarah, a fishing port in Libya, on October 10, 2013, carrying mainly Syrians. A few hours later, water flooded the ship.
Italy “did not respond quickly” to distress calls after the ship was shot down “by a Berber-flagged boat in international waters”, some 113 km (70 miles) south of the Italian island of Lampedusa, said the committee of 18 experts.
He added that distress calls to Italian authorities were being redirected to Malta, located approximately 218 km (135 miles). By the time a Maltese patrol boat arrived, the boat carrying migrants and refugees capsized.
Helene Tigroudja, Committee member, called it a “complex case” since the migrants’ boat was in international waters of Malta’s search and rescue zone, but said a swift response could have avoided the tragedy. .
The committee’s decision follows a joint complaint by three Syrians and a Palestinian national who survived the crash but lost their families.
One of the people on the ship called the Italian authorities, saying the ship was sinking and sent them the GPS coordinates.
He rang the bell several times again, only to be told that they were in the Maltese search and rescue area. The Italian operator only gave them the phone number of the Malta Rescue Coordination Center.
The migrants then made increasingly desperate calls to the Rescue Coordination Center and the Malta Armed Forces for two hours.
When a Maltese patrol boat arrived at the scene at 5:50 p.m., the vessel had already capsized.
Italy eventually ordered its nearby naval vessel ITS Libra to come to the rescue after 6 p.m. in response to Malta’s request.
“If the Italian authorities had immediately directed his warship and coastguard boats after the distress calls, help would have reached the ship no later than two hours before it sank,” Tigroudja said.
Migrants in Libya
War-torn Libya is a major gateway for migrants and refugees fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, hoping to reach Europe.
Libyan-based smugglers launch ships, many of them fragile rubber dinghies or rickety fishing boats, crowded with migrants hoping to reach European shores to seek asylum.
The Central Mediterranean route is described by UNHCR as the most dangerous migration route in the world – one in six people who leave the coasts of North Africa die.
Since 2014, more than 20,000 migrants and refugees have died at sea trying to reach Europe from Africa.
While many drowned at sea, thousands were intercepted by the Libyan coast guard, supported by Italy and the European Union, and returned to Libya.
Most of them end up in detention, often in horrific conditions.
Since February 2017, at least 36,000 people have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard and returned to the North African country, according to UN figures.