Italy: Deaths at sea must spur action to ensure safe, legal routes to Europe

Responding to yesterday’s tragic shipwreck off the coast of Steccato di Cutro, in which at least 62 migrants, including children, lost their lives, Eve Geddie, Amnesty International’s Europe Director of Advocacy, said:

“The grief and horror felt by all of us over these tragic deaths must be channelled into action by European governments, who must ensure that there are safe and legal routes for people to reach the EU.

“How many more lives must be lost before European policy makers see that blocking safe and legal routes and criminalizing rescue workers does not stop people making these journeys – it just makes them even more perilous.

“Instead of making Europe’s borders even more unwelcoming by pushing people back and criminalizing NGO rescuers who attempt to save lives at sea, European governments should focus on ensuring safe passage for migrants.”


Last week, more than 60 migrants drowned and dozens went missing after their overloaded boat sank off the Libyan coast.

On 23 February, lawmakers in Italy finally approved legislation introducing measures designed to hamper the work of rescue NGOs. In application of this legislation, later the same day, Médecins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) rescue ship, the Geo Barents, was impounded for 20 days a told they will be fined 10 thousand euros.