An incident that took place over Easter weekend has revealed that migrants leaving North African shores are being given contact details of Italian lawyers before they even leave for Europe.
Two migrants were able to contact a lawyer and start an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights while they were still in the process of crossing the Mediterranean in a rubber dinghy, shortly after they had departed from the port of Al Khoms, near Tripoli.
Sudanese migrant Abdel Wahab Mohamed and Ivorian migrant Naseneva Diabj were able to contact Italian lawyer Lucia Gennari who works for the migrant transport NGO Mediterranea-Saving Humans, according to a report published last month.
The testimony of the migrants, according to a report from newspaper Il Giornale published this week, was presented to the court in Strasbourg while they were still at sea and claimed that 47 migrants were aboard the ship, several of them ill.
Whistleblower Who Reported Migrant Transport NGO Smuggler Links Lives in Fear After Death Threats https://t.co/8NstEBqn5A
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Two complaints were filed over that Easter weekend, one demanding the migrants be given a safe haven in Malta and another listing alleged human rights violations by Malta and Italy.
The migrants aboard the dinghy, including the two who contacted the Italian lawyer, were later recovered by a fishing vessel which took them all back to Libya.
Previously, migrant transport NGOs have denied links to people traffickers in North Africa, while Italian prosecutors have asserted the groups have direct links.
In 2017, Italian Prosecutor Ambrogio Cartosio released images allegedly showing people traffickers working with the German-based NGO Jugend Rettet and its ship the Iuventa in the search and rescue area off the coast of Libya.
“The evidence is serious. We have evidence of encounters between smugglers who have accompanied illegal immigrants to the ‘Iuventa’, and members of the crew,” Cartosio said at the time.
Coronavirus Halts Migrant Transport NGO Activity in Italy https://t.co/LolF53hTrs
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A year later, a former security staff member for the NGO Save the Children made similar claims and stated the NGOs “filmed and knew everything. They didn’t want any information to come out of the ship without their approval.”
The outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus has largely stopped migrant transport NGO activity in the Mediterranean, with Sea-Eye being one of the few still active.
Earlier this month, doctor Caterina Ciufegni, who works for Sea-Eye, claimed that transporting migrants was more important than worrying about the spread of coronavirus.
“Facing people who run away from torture, coronavirus takes second place. I think we all accepted the risk,” she said.