Italian coast guard accused of returning migrants to Libya
Arnt Jensvoll 07.05.2023 10:15
The German NGO Sea-Watch accuses the Italian coast guard of sending around 30 irregular migrants back to Libya after they were “rescued” at the end of April.
The Italian Coast Guard rejects the accusation and calls the claims by Sea-Watch, that the Guardia Costiera in Rome instructed the Bahamas-registered ship “Grimstad” to return the migrants to North Africa, to be groundless.
Italy denies ordering return of 30 migrants to Libya
— The Libya Update (@TheLibyaUpdate) May 1, 2023
The migrants were picked up within the Libyan Search and Rescue zone under the responsibility of the Libyan authorities. Consequently, the ship handed the migrants over to Libyan authorities outside the port city of Zueitina.
Sea-Watch assisted the “rescue operation” with their Seabird surveillance aircraft. After the action, the NGO claimed that the ship’s obligation under international law was to take the migrants to a safe harbour.
Sea-Watch believes that the unstable situation in Libya after the country was bombed by NATO, makes it unsuitable to return migrants there.
🔴 Rescue coordination centre Rome orders merchant ship to break international law.
The GRIMSTAD has rescued ⁓30 people in the Med & was ordered by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome to take the people to Libya. This is a violation of the non-refoulement principle. pic.twitter.com/E5JwdRRrrB
— Sea-Watch International (@seawatch_intl) April 29, 2023
Norwegian-sounding ship name
A search for the ship with the Norwegian-sounding name “Grimstad” leads us to call sign C6WG9. The result indicates that the 240 metre long ship has recently been in Libyan waters and that it is owned by Grimstad Shipping in Singapore with address c/o Polyar Tankers AS, Rådhusgaten, Oslo.