Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC) will begin a two day fact-finding trip to Italy on 6 September as Rapporteur for the PACE Migration Committee (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe). She is investigating the deaths of boat people who have died in the Mediterranean since January 2011.
From the PACE press statement of 2 September: “Meetings are scheduled with survivors of a shipwreck, officers of Italian coastguard units, representatives of NGOs active in the field and representatives of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. During her visit the rapporteur will in particular look into the way boats are intercepted – or not intercepted – by national coastguard forces, or by military vessels under either NATO or national command. Further to reports that migrants and refugees have perished after their distress calls were ignored, the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population appointed Ms Strik in June to conduct an inquiry into these matters.”
From the PACE press statement issued in June 2011: “‘There have been allegations that migrants and refugees are dying after their appeals for rescue have been ignored,’ said Mrs Strik. ‘Such a grave allegation must be urgently investigated. I intend to look into the manner in which these boats are intercepted – or not – by the different national coastguards, the EU’s border agency FRONTEX, or even military vessels. I also intend to speak to witnesses directly involved in reported incidents, and put questions to national authorities, the UNHCR, FRONTEX and NATO, among others.’ On 8 May, the Guardian newspaper reported that 61 boat people escaping from Libya had died after their appeals for rescue had been ignored by armed forces operating in the Mediterranean. The following day PACE President Mevlüt Çavusoglu called for ‘an immediate and comprehensive enquiry’ into the incident.”
Presumably Ms. Strik’s investigation will also seek information from Maltese authorities. The Maltese Rescue Coordination Centre run by the Armed Forces of Malta is in possession of relevant information pertaining to incidents within the Maltese Search and Rescue Area where many (perhaps most?) of the migrant deaths have occurred.
Click here for link to COE’s web page regarding “PACE’s Response to Migrants and refugees arriving from North Africa.”