Mediterranean Sea: Rescue Services:Written question - 196123

Q
(Leeds North East)
Asked on: 27 November 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Mediterranean Sea: Rescue Services
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he plans to tackle the criminalisation of humanitarian assistance to migrants as evidenced by the recent seizure of the migrant rescue vessel Aquarius; and if he will make a statement.
A
Corrected answer by: Sir Alan Duncan
Corrected on: 17 December 2018
An error has been identified in the written answer given on 05 December 2018.
The correct answer should have been:

The UK Government is aware that, on 20 November 2018, Italian authorities issued a warrant for of the seizure of the Marine Vessel Aquarius by the Italian authorities on grounds of waste pollution. According to the ship's operators, the vessel has been at the French port of Marseille since 4 October 2018 and, in the absence of a Flag State, is unable to leave port. Consequently the warrant has not yet been executed. It The vessel operated as a Search and Rescue vessel in the central Mediterranean by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) 'SOS Méditerranée' and 'Médicins Sans Frontières' until September 2018. This matter is now subject to Italian legal processes and it is not appropriate for the UK Government to comment on the legal process initiated by the Italian authorities. We recognise the importance of Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean and value the contribution of NGOs in saving lives at sea. We are concerned about the increasing fatality rate that has coincided with the effective cessation of the Search and Rescue operations in the central Mediterranean due to the lack of assurances over safe disembarkation arrangements. We will continue to be involved with efforts to find a solution.

A
Answered by: Sir Alan Duncan
Answered on: 05 December 2018

The UK Government is aware that, on 20 November 2018, Italian authorities issued a warrant for of the seizure of the Marine Vessel Aquarius by the Italian authorities on grounds of waste pollution. According to the ship's operators, the vessel has been at the French port of Marseille since 4 October 2018 and, in the absence of a Flag State, is unable to leave port. Consequently the warrant has not yet been executed. It The vessel operated as a Search and Rescue vessel in the central Mediterranean by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) 'SOS Méditerranée' and 'Médicins Sans Frontières' until September 2018. This matter is now subject to Italian legal processes and it is not appropriate for the UK Government to comment on the legal process initiated by the Italian authorities. We recognise the importance of Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean and value the contribution of NGOs in saving lives at sea. We are concerned about the increasing fatality rate that has coincided with the effective cessation of the Search and Rescue operations in the central Mediterranean due to the lack of assurances over safe disembarkation arrangements. We will continue to be involved with efforts to find a solution.

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