Claim: Migrant Taxi NGO is Already Violating New Italian Govt’s Border Rules

SALERNO, CAMPANIA, ITALY - 2022/12/11: Medecins Sans Frontieres' Geo Barents ship is
Antonio Balasco/KONTROLAB/LightRocket via Getty Images

A migrant taxi NGO has already likely violated a decree from the Italian government regulating NGO ship actions, while another has stated it will ignore any rules it deems to be illegal.

The NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has been accused of violating the new regulations on migrant taxi NGO activity as part of a new security decree implemented by the government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni that came into effect on Wednesday.

Part of the decree states that any ship must return to a safe port after its first rescue operation, rather than continue sailing around and picking up more migrants at sea.

According to a report from the newspaper Il Giornale, the MSF ship Geo Barents was initially given port access in Taranto but deviated course after receiving information of a migrant boat possibly in distress, a possible violation of the new rules despite the fact no migrants were found and picked up by the vessel.

The Geo Barents also must comply with another provision in the decree, which states migrants must fill out asylum applications prior to landing in Italy and must be forwarded to whichever country the migrant taxi ship flies the flag of, which in the Geo Barents’ case is Norway.

Other migrant taxi NGOs have expressed their own criticism of the new Italian rules, such as the German NGO Sea-Eye, which stated that it may simply ignore some of the rules entirely.

The NGO stated that it “will not abide by any illegal code of conduct or any other official directive that violates international law or the laws of the State under which we set sail, in this case, Germany. We reject this so-called code and we fear that this may create conflict with Italian authorities. We expect the German government to protect us.”

The Spanish NGO Maydayterraneo, which operates the ship Aita Mari, also criticised the regulations saying, “The new decree law of the Italian government is a real trap whose clear intent is to stop the rescue work of the civil fleet.”

The NGO also noted the stiff penalties for violating the new rules, stating, “in case of failure to request a port after first aid, the commanders could be fined up to 10 thousand euros, with the possibility of seizure of the ship for 20 days. Up to 50 thousand euros with the seizure of the ship in case of violation of the code of conduct and attempt to enter Italy without authorization.”

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



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