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Parliamentary questions
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9 June 2017
E-001899/2017(ASW)
Answer given by Mr Avramopoulos on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-001899/2017

While the relevant facts and circumstances of any Search and Rescue (SAR) event must be considered on a case-by-case basis, the Commission would like to reiterate that the master of any assisting ship, be it private-owned or State-controlled, must follow the instructions of the responsible Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC), that will designate a place of safety.

Therefore, the same rules must indeed be followed by all shipmasters.

Place of safety means a location where rescue operations are considered to terminate and where the survivors’ safety of life is not threatened, where their basic human needs can be met and from which transportation arrangements can be made for the survivors’ next destination or final destination, taking into account the protection of their fundamental rights in compliance with the principle of non-refoulement.

In this respect, the obligation of non-refoulement extends beyond international refugee law and is for instance widely associated with the prohibition of torture(1).

Currently, Libya does not dispose of an RCC. Besides, the Operational Plans agreed for Operation Triton and Eunavfor Sophia, operating in the Central Mediterranean, foresee disembarkation in Italian ports. Recognising the central role that the Libyan Coast Guard should play in managing the situation, building its capacity is a priority, both in terms of training, capabilities and equipment needs.

To this end, the Commission is closely coordinating with Member States, Operation Sophia, the EU Border Assistance.

(1)A. Gallagher and F. David, the international law of migrant smuggling, Cambridge University Press, 2014, pp.174-179.

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