Reacting to the prosecutor’s recognition that charges against the Iuventa ship’s crew members should be dropped, Elisa De Pieri, Amnesty International’s Regional Researcher, said:
“We welcome today’s positive news that the Trapani court Prosecutor has requested the dismissal of the case against all members of the Iuventa crew and the other human rights defenders who served on the rescue ships operated by Médicins Sans Frontières and Save the Children. The Iuventa crew has endured six and half years of court proceedings with unfaltering grace and resilience and we are glad that there is new hope that the court case will finally be thrown out.
“The Iuventa ship has saved more than 14,000 lives, including children, and its crew has done so upholding the law of the sea. We urge the authorities to stop misusing criminal proceedings and charges of facilitation of irregular migration to obstruct life-saving activities.
“Humanity must come first as we recognize the fearlessness of the Iuventa crew and others who work to battle the horrors that take place in the treacherous waters across the Mediterranean. Their acts of solidarity with refugees and migrants should be championed and never be punished. Without them the already horrific death toll in the central Mediterranean would only get worse.”
In 2017, Italian authorities had opened investigations into crew members of an NGO ship named the Iuventa involved in search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean. They were charged with facilitating irregular immigration to Italy from Libya – effectively colluding with smugglers and faced up to 20 years in prison.
The hearing, part of legal proceedings which started in May 2022, continued on 28 February. The court in Trapani is expected to reach a decision on Saturday 2 March on whether the Iuventa crew, and other crew from Médecins Sans Frontières and Save the Children, will be indicted.
In 2020, Amnesty International launched a worldwide solidarity campaign calling on the Italian prosecutor to drop the investigation against Iuventa crew members.