Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC) concluded a two day fact-finding trip to Italy on 7 September as Rapporteur for the PACE Migration Committee. She is investigating the deaths of boat people who have died in the Mediterranean since January 2011. Strik interviewed Father Moses Zerai, an Eritrean priest, who was in satellite phone contact with several migrant boats during their voyages from Libya, including the disabled migrant boat that drifted for days in March-April this year and on which 61 persons are believed to have died. In addition to Zerai, Strik interviewed three of the nine survivors from the boat, Italian Coastguard officials, and NGO and UNHCR staff. Strik “is planning interviews with officials from Nato and the Maltese government, which the Italian coastguard says was alerted to the boat’s plight.”
From the PACE press statement: “‘There is an obligation to help all people in distress. If anyone did not live up to this responsibility and deliberately did not assist them, they must not be allowed to get away with it. … The testimonies of witnesses directly involved in this incident are coherent, but we have to continue to collect more data and information on who was when and where in the area,’ Mrs Strik reported. ‘My mission is to try to find out what went wrong, and if there was perhaps a gap in responsibility-sharing. The recommendation which will be contained in my report is aimed at establishing responsibilities and trying to determine how to deal with such incidents in the future. We have to draw the right lessons to prevent similar situations from occurring again. … At the end of my inquiry, I expect national jurisdictions, governments and parliaments to carry on the investigations and I very much hope that the dynamic of truth … will pave the way,’ she concluded.”
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