NGO Claims Vessel Seizure an ‘Act of Revenge’

Demontrators hold a flag reading "Savin Humans - Mediterranea" during a gathering organized by local human rights associations in support of the 47 migrants including minors, stranded aboard the Dutch-flagged rescue vessel Sea Watch 3, in front of Italian parliament, in central Rome on January 28, 2019. - Save the …

Italian NGO Mediterranea Saving Lives has complained of “revenge” after their ship, the Mare Jonio, was seized in Italian waters this week.

The seizure of the ship was ordered after outgoing interior minister Matteo Salvini, along with the ministers of defence and infrastructure, signed a ban on the vessel entering Italian territorial waters, Italian newspaper Il Giornale reports.

Most of the 98 migrants picked up by the ship disembarked the vessel due to health reasons with the remaining migrants landing in Italy on Monday afternoon after being taken aboard an Italian law enforcement vessel.

The authorities then approached the vessel after all of the migrants had left, brought it into Italian territorial waters, and announced it would be seized for violating the migrant and security decree drafted by Salvini earlier this year.

The provisions of the security decree were changed to allow authorities to seize vessels of the Italian NGO despite the fact they are flying an Italian flag on their ship.

The NGO commented on the seizure saying: “We have entered territorial waters with the formal authorisation of the Coastguard. Now we are contesting the violation of the Security Decree. It is the last revenge of those who do not tolerate that humanity prevails.”

So far, prosecutors have not announced whether or not the ship or its crew will be investigated and possibly charged with facilitating illegal migration as other NGO vessels have been in recent months.

How long the seizure could last is also up for speculation after Five Star Movement supporters approved a new government coalition with the Democratic Party (PD) whose leader has expressed a desire to scrap the Salvini decree and open Italy’s borders to mass migration NGOs.

Ten NGO vessels now operate in the Mediterranean, ramping up activity, likely in anticipation of new government policy should the new proposed coalition come to power.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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