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2018 Sakharov Prize finalist NGOs, which carried out rescue operations in the Mediterranean and are now prevented from operating, discussed their work with MEPs on Monday.

MEPs of the Civil Liberties committee and Human Rights Subcommittee debated the legal framework of search and rescue operations as well as the challenges faced by people working in the field with representatives of the NGOs.

Members of Sea Watch, Solidarity at Sea, Sea Eye, Seebrücke Germany, Open Arms, Médecins sans Frontières and Migrant Offshore Aid Station objected to MEPs that their activities are being unjustly criminalised. They regret that the media and authorities are focussing their attention now on NGOs carrying out these rescue operations, and not on the humanitarian crisis taking place in the Mediterranean.

They underlined that, according to international maritime law, people rescued at sea must be brought to a port of safety immediately, and insisted that the Libyan coast guard should not be conducting search and rescue operations.

The NGOs saving lives in the Mediterranean were finalists in last year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

You can watch the second part of the discussion (from 17.00 onwards) via video on demand.