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Italy blocking migrant rescue ships - would it be illegal?

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By Euronews
Italy blocking migrant rescue ships - would it be illegal?

<p>As Italy ramps up pressure on the EU to help with the influx of mostly African migrants, there is a warning that any move to block rescue ships would go against humanitarian laws.</p> <p>Barring vessels, flying foreign flags, from returning to Italian ports, is apparently being considered.</p> <p>“The argument of force majeure is irrelevant, and, in the end, refusing to allow such people to disembark would amount to inhuman or degrading treatment, which contravenes Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights,” Philippe De Bruycker, an expert at the Migration Policy Centre, told Euronews. </p> <p>But, according to the same expert, the Italian government could go beyond political threats – and take a judicial line at the European Union level. </p> <p>“It is high time that Italy makes its voice heard, not from a political point of view, but from a judicial point of view to remind the European Union, the Commission, the European Council, of their legal obligations in respect of European law,” said De Bruycker. </p> <p>He is referring to Article 80 of the EU Treaty, which points to “solidarity” and “fair sharing” of responsibility, including financial implications. </p> <p>EU leaders agree that Italy should get more help to manage arrivals. </p> <p>But EU Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: “Italy has to adopt the measures to speed up the procedures and manage migrants on its territory.” </p> <p>He continued: “We are ready to increase our support to Italy, including substantial financial support if need it. All member states now need to deliver and show solidarity towards Italy.”</p> <p>Italy’s become the main European arrival point for mostly African migrants. Over half a million people have arrived by boat since 2014 and numbers are up so far this year.</p>