Impunity through externalization? Interventions against human rights violations at sea and beyond

23 October 2018, 6:00 pm

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)
Zossener Str. 55-58 (Staircase A, front house, 4th Floor), 10961 Berlin

The forceful closure of migratory routes leads to predictable and systematic human rights violations. It turns the Mediterranean Sea into a site of daily violence and deaths, while European authorities are criminalizing civil rescue organisations and denying boats entry to ports. European states seek to escape responsibility by externalizing border control operations. Italy i.e. concluded an agreement with Libya in early 2017 and provides material, technical and political support to the so-called Libyan Coastguard. As a result, the Libyan Coastguard conducts refoulement by proxy on behalf of the EU and Italy, meaning that people on the move towards Europe are intercepted and pulled back to Libya.  

On 6 November 2017, 47 individuals were pulled back to Libya and at least 20 people died at sea. The Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center had informed the Libyan Coastguard about the vessel in distress, donated the patrol boat that conducted the pull-back, and trained several of the Libyan crew members on board. Italy’s responsibility for this return operation is now under legal scrutiny, due to a complaint submitted to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN). Moreover, many groups still try to save lives at sea. One of them is the organisation SOS MEDITERRANEE, whose rescue ship “Aquarius” continues to be active in the Mediterranean.


At ECCHR, we will discuss ongoing rescue efforts and interventions against externalisation, with:

Itamar Mann is a senior lecturer at the University of Haifa, Faculty of Law. He focuses on human rights, refugee and migration law. He is also a legal advisor at the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and will speak about the pending complaint against Italy in front of the ECtHR.

Jana Ciernioch
is part of SOS MEDITERRANEE and a crew member of the "Aquarius". She will address both the current situation of refugees and migrants at the mid-Mediterranean Sea and the ongoing criminalization of rescue missions.

Moderated by: Vera Wriedt, ECCHR Migration Program

The event will be held in English. The venue is wheelchair accessible.

We look forward to welcoming you to this event and kindly ask you to register until 18 October 2018 (please note that no confirmation will be sent).

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