Berlin/ Marseille/ Palermo, 11.08.2017
Today, Friday August 11th, European humanitarian organization SOS MEDITERRANEE met with Mario Morcone, Head of Civil Liberties and Immigration at the Ministry of Interior in Rome. The meeting was set to continue the discussion on the Code of Conduct for humanitarian organizations saving lives in the Central Mediterranean.
The meeting was held in a spirit of openness and constructive dialogue.
Acknowledging the life-saving work of NGOs and SOS MEDITERRANEE’s openness to discussion, the Italian Ministry of Interior agreed to include the points raised by Sophie Beau on behalf of the SOS MEDITERRANEE international network during the meeting, by adding them to the current Code of Conduct in the form of an addendum. As a result, SOS MEDITERRANEE signed the Code of Conduct this morning.
The Code of Conduct now acknowledges in written form that:
- The Code of Conduct is not legally binding and existing national and international laws and regulations prevail.
- The Code of Conduct does not mention the carrying of any form of weapon. Therefore, SOS MEDITERRANEE does not commit itself to receive any armed persons aboard its ship, without prejudice of a mandate that could be issued in the frame of national of international law.
- Police officers received aboard the rescue vessels commit not to interfere with the humanitarian mission of saving and protecting lives.
- The Code of Conduct does not restrict transfers of survivors to other vessels, if coordinated by the MRCC Rome.
In the meeting, co-founder and Vice-President of SOS MEDITERRANEE International Sophie Beau, shared the “concerns of Italy, which is left alone in responding to the humanitarian tragedy unfolding at Europe’s doorsteps“.
“We highly appreciate the efforts of the Italian Ministry of Interior to discuss and accept our amendments in order to clarify our main concerns about the Code of Conduct for NGOs. We are relieved that this chapter is over, allowing us focus now on the most important issues: the worrying developments in the search and rescue area”, commented Sophie Beau after the meeting.