The state in which the ship is in port rescuing people at sea humanitarian organization, in certain cases, has the right to control it for compliance with the requirements in the field of safety, health protection and environmental protection, the European Court of Justice (EuGH) considers. To conduct control, it is necessary to have reliable signs of a threat, said the court in Luxembourg on Monday, August 1, announcing the decision on the dispute between the German charity Sea Watch and Italian justice.
At the same time, the European Court stressed the obligation to save people in distress at sea.
Detention of two ships in the ports of Sicily
It was about a lawsuit related to the detention in the summer of 2020 in two ports of Sicily ships Sea Watch 3 and Sea Watch 4, flying under the flags of Germany. The Italian authorities justified their actions by the fact that the ships were unsuitable for accommodating several hundred people on board. In response, the organization complained to the regional court of Sicily about the detention, indicating that its ships had already received certification in Germany. According to Sea Watch, by detaining the ships, Italy violated European law. The Italian court, in turn, asked EuGH to interpret EU law in this case.
After the decision of the European Court, the court in Italy must make its decision. In doing so, he is obliged to take into account the legal opinion of the judges in Luxembourg.
AT mediterranean sea there are no state rescue missions. Private organizations are involved in helping refugees trying to reach Europe. The authorities of Malta have not allowed rescue ships to enter its ports for several years. In Italy, obtaining such a permit often takes many days.