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  • Sea Watch ship leaves after migrants disembarked in Lampedusa, Italy, June 29, 2019.

    Sea Watch ship leaves after migrants disembarked in Lampedusa, Italy, June 29, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 July 2019

Ships will be seized and commanders arrested. Fines against them may exceed US$1 million.

Italian political parties Tuesday presented over 500 amendments to the "Decreto Sicurrenza", the anti-migration law the text of which is expected to be analyzed and changed at the country's upper house. Among likely modifications are norms stating that humanitarian rescue ships must always be seized and their commanders immediately arrested.

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Italy: Second Ship Violates Salvini's Anti-Migrant Legislation

"I am proud of what we have presented...  I am interested in making the country safer and this will require... blocking those who help human traffickers, arrivals, departures, landings and frauds... security is at the heart of everyone," Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said.

Besides asking security officials to guard the Italian borders, the League, a far-right political party led by Salvini, has submitted an amendment to raise fines from US$168,000 to US$1.2 million to ships that do not respect the “Closed Ports” policy.

In addition, rescue ships not complying with the prohibition against passing through Italian waters will always be seized and confiscated. To this end, authorities will set a special register of confiscated boats, which could be later reassigned to non-profit organizations which request them.

Furthermore, the commander of an NGO-owned ship carrying out the “crime” of resistance to, or violence against, an Italian warship will always be arrested.

Since January, some 3,126 migrants have reached Italy, most of whom came from Tunisia, Pakistan, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Iraq and Bangladesh.

Over two-thirds of these migrants were picked up at sea, relatively close to land, by the Italian navy; barely 300 have been settled in Italy, though.

In the past two weeks, the Sea-Watch 3 ship and the sailboat Alex have defied the "Closed Ports" policy, which made their owners face fines of around US$56,000.

We need to “put an end to the criminalization of NGOs and review the Security Decree,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Office (UNCHR) spokeswoman for Southern Europe, Carlotta Sami, requested.

"Not having anyone to look for and save people in the Mediterranean" is not a deterrent because that will only mean "letting more people die proportionately at sea," she stressed.

Minister Salvini ​​​​​​ personally shut down "La Cara di Mineo" (CARA) Tuesday, the largest shelter for asylum seekers, which was located in the Catania province and managed to house up to 4,173 migrants in July 2014.

"Next time I will be in the Catania prefecture to sign a protocol to defend farmers against theft, damage and aggression that ​​​​​​​harm local economy, which is not a center for immigrants," the far-right politician told journalists.

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