UN Human Rights Committee finds that Italy failed to rescue more than 200 migrants in 2013

A report by a United Nations Human Rights Committee has found that failed to rescue more than 200 migrants – including 60 children – aboard a vessel that sank in the Mediterranean Sea in 2013.. 

the Human Rights Committee said that Italy had failed to respond promptly to various distress calls from the sinking boat, which was carrying more than 400 adults and children. The State party also failed to explain the delay in dispatching its navy ship, ITS Libra, which was located only about an hour away from the scene.  

“It is a complex case. The accident happened in the international waters within the Maltese search and rescue zone but the location was indeed closest to Italy and to one of its naval ships. Had the Italian authorities immediately directed its naval ship and coast guard boats after the distress calls, the rescue would have reached the vessel at the latest two hours before it sank,” committee member Hélène Tigroudja said. 

“State parties are required under the international law of the sea to take steps to protect the lives of all individuals who find themselves in a situation of distress at sea. Even though the sinking vessel was not located in Italy’s search and rescue zone, the Italian authority had a duty to support the search and rescue mission to save the lives of the migrants. Italy’s delayed action had a direct impact on the loss of hundreds of lives,” Tigroudja added.  

The Committee’s decision responded to a joint complaint lodged by four survivors – three Syrians and a Palestine national – who lost their families in the accident. The plaintiffs recounted the incidents of 10 October 2013, including the vessel’s plea to Italian authorities for urgent assistance.   

Photo Credit : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boat_People_at_Sicily_in_the_Mediterranean_Sea.jpg