Italy Investigating German Refugee Rescue Workers

The Iuventa, belonging to Berlin-based NGO Jugend Rettet, was impounded by Italian authorities last year. PHOTO: Deutsche Welle/Getty/AFP/A. Fucarini

Italian prosecutors are investigating rescue workers from international NGOs, including some from the German NGO Jugend Rettet. The investigation comes as Italy’s populist government cracks down on private sea rescues.

28 July 2018

DEUTSCHE WELLE — Prosecutors from the Sicilian town of Trapani opened an investigation on Wednesday into more than 20 sea rescue workers accused of assisting with illegal immigration, according to a report from German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.

The rescuers work for various international nongovernmental organizations, including Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children. Prosecutors have not pressed any charges and the preliminary investigation is a “technical process” in order to gather information from computers and phones, a spokesperson for Doctors Without Borders told German press agency DPA.

“We are sure that these technical reviews confirm what we have always said: that we operate at sea in accordance with the law,” the spokesperson said.

Italy has intensified its fight against private sea rescuers. In June, it turned away a migrant rescue ship that belonged to the German NGO Sea Watch and was carrying more than 600 refugees. The country’s populist government has promised to curb the massive influx of migrants from Africa — more than 600,000 have entered the country in the past five years. […]

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