Italy confines Ocean Viking migrant rescue ship for 20 days

AFP - [email protected]
Italy confines Ocean Viking migrant rescue ship for 20 days
Migrant rescue ship Ocean Viking, operated by SOS Mediterranee NGO, docked at the port of Civitacecchia on July 14th, 2023. Photo by: Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Italian authorities have detained the Ocean Viking migrant rescue vessel for 20 days over its alleged failure to follow a prescribed route after rescuing dozens of people off the Libyan coast, the ship's operator said Sunday.


"Ocean Viking is detained under the 'Piantedosi Decree-Law' for the second time in two months, punishing humanitarian rescuers for carrying out the lifesaving work that European States fail to do in the central Mediterranean," SOS Mediterranee, based in the French city of Marseille, said on X.

It said the ship had been ordered to return directly to the Italian port of Bari after picking up 244 people in three rescue operations, including 18 unaccompanied minors and four children under the age of four.

But as it was heading for Bari the Ocean Viking received an alert of at least 70 migrants needing help around 15 nautical miles (28 kilometres) from its position, though in fact the skiff was around 60 nautical miles away.

"Without any indication that another ship was en route to help these people in distress, we simply had no other choice, legal or moral, to respond to this alert - any other choice would have been a violation of international law," SOS Mediterranee told AFP.

In the end the Viking was not in a position to help and resumed its course toward Bari. It did not say if the migrants were later rescued.


On November 15, Italian authorities had already ordered the ship detained for 20 days and issued a fine of 3,300 euros ($3,600), saying it had failed to coordinate its actions with the authorities.

Since January 2023, 2,678 migrants have disappeared while trying to cross the Mediterranean for Europe, according to the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM).


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Paul Rivas 2024/01/02 12:34
IMO it should be detained indefinitely. Traffickers that they are.

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