Friday 18 October 2019

Rome to ignore UN's appeal on migrant ban

 

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Photo: Reuters
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Photo: Reuters

Nicola Winfield

The Italian interior ministry has vowed to press ahead with a new decree closing Italian ports to aid groups that rescue migrants, even after UN human rights investigators said it violated international law.

Ministry officials said the security decree was "necessary and urgent" and was expected to be approved at a cabinet meeting today.

In a May 15 letter to Italy's government released on Saturday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Italy to withdraw the decree, calling it "yet another political attempt to criminalise search and rescue operations".

The decree "further intensifies the climate of hostility and xenophobia against migrants", said the letter, signed by several UN human rights rapporteurs.

It was issued as a ship carrying more than 40 migrants from the German aid group Sea-Watch remained off the island of Lampedusa waiting for a port to disembark its passengers. Sea-Watch said it had flouted Italy's ban and entered Italian territorial waters on Saturday for humanitarian reasons.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, a hard-line populist, proposed the decree before the EU elections this week, where nationalist, anti-migrant parties are hoping to make strong gains.

Irish Independent

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