GENEVA (18 July 2019) – UN human rights experts* have expressed grave concern over the detention and criminal proceedings in Italy against the German captain of the migrant rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3, and stated that the threats to the judge who ruled her release were unlawful.
“Rescuing migrants in distress at sea is not a crime,” the experts said. “We urge the Italian authorities to immediately stop the criminalisation of search and rescue operations.”
Carola Rackete was arrested and placed under house arrest on 29 June 2019 after Sea-Watch 3 entered the Italian port of Lampedusa with 40 migrants on board. On 1 July 2019, Rackete faced a judge over accusations that she had ignored police in docking at Lampedusa and that she had hit a police patrol boat. The judge dismissed the charges the next day, ruling that Rackete had been fulfilling her duty to rescue persons in distress at sea, and ordered her immediate release. She has since received death and rape threats and has been targeted online through sexist messages.