World 131 16.05.2019 14:02:31

Italy launches bill to fine those who save refugees

Italy launches bill to fine those who save refugees

talian interior minister Matteo Salvini has proposed a bill to fine those who rescue refugees at sea up to €5,500 (£4,800) for every saved person.

The bill, which was announced by Mr Salvini on Friday, would present vessels with fines between €3,500 and €5,500 for each “foreigner” they deposit on Italian ground. INDEPENDENT press reports about it.

In the most serious cases, Italian vessels caught transporting rescued refugees would see their licences revoked or suspended.

Third-sector organizations blasted the bill as Italy’s “umpteenth attack on human life”, “bullying” and “bending of international law”.

The bill would need to be approved by the Italian cabinet before being turned into a decree. The decree would then be voted in the Italian parliament before it becomes law.

The bill also includes other measures to give more powers to the police and to introduce harsher penalties for resisting or offending officers.

Last year, Italy and Malta stepped up efforts to prevent third-sector rescue vessels from operating in the Mediterranean Sea. As a result, many aid groups have had to terminate search and rescue operations.

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), some 17,000 refugees have reached Europe via the Mediterranean Sea since the beginning of 2019, compared with some 32,000 during the same period last year.

But the death rate has risen dramatically, especially in the Central Mediterranean.

Some 307 people have gone missing or lost their lives trying to reach Italy and Malta this year, or one every eight who attempted the crossing. The same figure was one every 50 last year.

“It is clear that crossing the Mediterranean is now more dangerous than ever,” IOM spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo wrote on Twitter. “And saving lives at sea (and bringing migrants to a safe port, not Libya) should be the number one priority.”