SOS MEDITERRANEE strongly condemns new attempts to criminalise humanitarian aid at sea – Italian authorities demand the preventive seizure of the Aquarius

SOS MEDITERRANEE strongly supports its partner Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) in condemning the decision of the Italian judicial authorities to order the preventive seizure of the Aquarius.

A lengthy investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office of Catania, concerning the unclassified disposal of onboard waste with allegations of illegally profiting from it, resulted in the decision by Italian judicial authorities to request the seizure of the the Aquarius.

We categorically refuse accusations of involvement in illegal activities. Standard procedures, that have not been questioned by authorities so far, have always been followed by the Aquarius.

This is another strike in the series of attacks criminalising humanitarian aid at sea. The tragic current situation is leading to an absence of humanitarian search and rescue vessels operating in the central Mediterranean, while the mortality rate is on the rise” says Frederic Penard, SOS MEDITERRANEE Head of Operations.

Faced with another politically driven attack, we expect the French authorities, to show restraint in the implementation of this decision, as the Aquarius is currently docked in the port of Marseille.

In these difficult moments for the Aquarius, in which repeated political pressure forced our two organizations to temporally cease search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, we are fully aligned and support all MSF efforts to appeal the court’s decision.

For immediate release.
Credits: Yann Levy / SOS MEDITERRANEE. For editorial use only, no commercial use.

For further information please contact:
International: Laura Garel / +33 634 395 818 / l.garel@sosmediterranee.org
France: Julie Bégin / +33 6 67 89 72 10 / j.begin@sosmediterranee.org
Germany: Jana Ciernioch / +49 30 2205 6811 / j.ciernioch@sosmediterranee.org
Switzerland: Julie Melichar / +41 76 473 99 94 j.melichar@sosmediterranee.org