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News > Italy

'Rackete Should Be Released', Ex-Coast Guard Commander Says

  • Captain Carola Rackete onboard the Sea Watch ship as it docks in Lampedusa, Italy June 29, 2019.

    Captain Carola Rackete onboard the Sea Watch ship as it docks in Lampedusa, Italy June 29, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 June 2019

Authorities showed little interest in solving the humanitarian emergency at the rescue vessel Sea Watch.

Italian Senator and former Coast Guard commander, Gregorio De Falcoformer, says Sea Watch capitain, Carola Rackete, must be freed.

For 14 days, Rackete, 31, tried to negotiate a safe port with Italy, Germany, Malta, France and even the European Commission for the 42 remaining asylum seekers from parts of Africa aboard her ship until. In what she calls an "emergency," Rackete, from Germany, tried to dock in Italy Thursday, but authorities there blocked her attempt a mile off the coast.


Sea Watch Docks at the Port of Lampedusa, Captain Arrested

"Carola Rackete should be released... [She was] arrested for not stopping at the command of an (Italian) military ship. ... The Sea Watch is an ambulance, it is not obliged to stop, it is an emergency vessel. The military vessel should have escorted it to land," said De Falco, who was previusly expelled from the Five Star Movement (MS5) for voting against the "Decreto Sicurezza" bill.

The Decreto Sicurezza, sponsored by the far-right Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, establishes sanctions against human rights defenders who rescue migrants and try to disembark them in Italian ports. Salvini and his government say the decree is a "measure against human trafficking" in the Mediterranean.

The regulation allows the interior ministry the abiity to limit or ban the transit or parking of ships in the Italian territorial sea if "there are reasons to believe they disturb public order and security".

"Oh Captain, my Captain. Human Pride."

Rackete was arrested based on the May-passed measure when Italian authorities denied her permission to land the migrants whose health remains in peril. Around 12 refugees had already been transported to other vessels in the two-week time Sea Watch searched for a safe dock.

"The Sea Watch could not have gone to other ports, the nearest is Lampedusa (Italy). ... It waited for everything it could wait," Senator De Falco said.

"The captian had enough and entered by sense of responsibility. A legal norm putting a person in front of such a drama is perverse. The ship had an emergency and waited long enough."

Captain Rackete's decision has been seen as an act of defiance against the xenophobic and racist 'closed ports' policy of Italy and much of Europe.​​​​​​​

Referring to the several European nations she reached out to for safe docking, Rackete told reporters: "It was made very clear that none of these actors actually has any interest in finding a solution and it ultimately has been us who had to take steps." The ship captain added, "we have been left totally alone."

The Italian authorities arrested Rackete Friday night when they boarded the Sea-Watch ship. Rackete rescued 53 migrants from a rubber boat off the coast of Libya June 12. The fate of the Africans still floating in the Mediterrenean remains uncertain.​​​​​

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