The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has decided to grant an interim measure concerning the vessel SeaWatch 3, which had 47 migrants on board and was anchored outside of Syracuse, Sicily since 19 January 2019.
On 25 January, the Court received an urgent request under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court in the context of an application lodged by the captain of the SeaWatch 3, the head of the rescue mission, as well as by one of the migrants on board. A subsequent request was lodged on 28 January by the 15 unaccompanied minors on board. The applicants requested that all 47 migrants on board, rescued in the Mediterranean, be allowed to go ashore since the situation on board the vessel was precarious and the migrants were in poor health.
The ship had not been allowed to enter the harbour and the applicants complained that they were detained on board without legal basis, suffering inhuman and degrading treatment, with the risk of being returned to Libya without evaluation of their individual situation.
In its decision on 29 January, the Court did not grant the applicants’ requests to be disembarked. It requested the Italian Government “to take all necessary measures, as soon as possible, to provide all the applicants with adequate medical care, food, water and basic supplies as necessary.” As far as the 15 unaccompanied minors are concerned, the Government was requested to provide adequate legal assistance (e.g. legal guardianship). The Government was also asked to keep the Court regularly informed of the developments of the applicants’ situation.
The Italian Government ultimately permitted the boat to dock on 30 January after six countries – France, Germany, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Luxembourg – agreed to accept the migrants.
Click here for the ECtHR press release.