Despite the current onslaught of migrants: In the future, Italian authorities will not be allowed to check rescue ships like those of the German aid organization “Sea Watch”, which usually enter the ports with migrants, without any indication of a danger. This emerges from a decision of the European Court of Justice. The judges ruled on Monday in Luxembourg that the EU rules on port state controls also apply to ships belonging to humanitarian organizations
For an inspection, the authorities would have to prove in detail “that there are reliable indications of a risk to health, safety, working conditions on board or the environment”. The number of people on board alone – rescue ships often head for the ports with hundreds of refugees and migrants – is not in itself a reason for an inspection.
“The verdict is a great success for us,” said a spokesman for Sea-Watch of the German Press Agency. Italy must now present concrete evidence for a port control. Sea rescuers complain again and again that the Italian authorities are holding their ships with flimsy justifications. The ECJ judgment on Monday concerned the ships “Sea Watch 3” and “Sea Watch 4” sailing under the German flag. They regularly go to the central Mediterranean to rescue people who have gotten into distress at sea while fleeing from North Africa towards the EU.