Reacting to a new investigation from Lighthouse Reports that reveals new details about the February shipwreck of Steccato di Cutro in Italy, which resulted in the death of at least 94 people despite EU Border Agency Frontex and Italian authorities being aware they were in danger, Eve Geddie, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, said:
Instead of shirking their responsibilities and passing the buck between themselves, Frontex and the Italian authorities should be transparent about what might have gone wrong. Where they fail to save lives, as they did so drastically at Cutro, they need to ensure that lessons are learnt and there is accountability for any wrongdoing. They owe that to the women, men and children who lost their lives that day, and to their loved ones.Eve Geddie, Director of European Institutions Office, Amnesty International
“Most of the people aboard the ‘Summer Love’ boat were from Afghanistan. While European politicians have been vocal about the horrors inflicted by the Taliban since they took power, they have failed to provide enough safe and regular routes for Afghan people, which forces them to make perilous journeys in search of safety. The EU’s scandalous externalization of responsibility for refugees to third countries must give way to policies that focus on rescuing lives at sea and increasing opportunities for safe and regular mobility.”
At about 04.30am local time on 26 February 2023, a wooden boat carrying about 200 people shipwrecked metres away from the beach of Steccato di Cutro, in the Italian region of Calabria.
International law imposes obligations on states in relation to search and rescue, including to ensure arrangements for the prompt coordination of rescue operations in their area of responsibility and for the rescue of persons in distress at sea near their coasts.
The investigation by Lighthouse Reports provides new details about the information that was available to Frontex and the Italian authorities several hours before the shipwreck, including in relation to bad weather conditions and the likely presence of refugees and migrants below deck.
Amnesty International had already flagged shortcomings and open questions in relation to the authorities’ response to the incident, and made recommendations for the Italian authorities in its calls for urgent review of search and rescue procedures and visa policies. The organization welcomes the attempts by Lighthouse Reports to shed light on the tragic events at Cutro amid the lack of transparency and refusal to acknowledge any responsibility by Italian authorities and Frontex.