Last Saturday, 22 September, Aquarius 2 owner received an official communication from the Panamanian authorities stating that the Italian authorities had urged the PMA to take “immediate action” against the Aquarius. That communication explained that, “unfortunately, it is necessary that the Aquarius be excluded from our registry because it implies a political problem against the Panamanian government and the Panamanian fleet that arrive to a European port.” Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said the Italian government had applied no pressure on Panama, and he also underlines that, according to newspapers, Aquarius 2 was about to have its registration revoked by Panama because it was “illegal and does not respect procedures”.
The message came despite the fact that Aquarius meets all maritime standards and is in full compliance with rigorous technical specifications as required under the Panama flag.
This despotically and arrogant attitude of Italian Interior Minister is very dangerous not only as political and economic act of blackmailing, but also for the safety and integrity of human lives. This blackmail with the Panama government is only the last step of Italian stigmatization of migration and more specifically, its criminalization of NGOs working in sea rescue, despite they cover all the legal requirement during their operations.
SOLIDAR and its members once again underline the fundamental importance of NGOs and civil society organisation in the cooperation with European and International institutions and organisations for a safe migration, whole over the world. We condemn this anti-diplomatic and unfair interference of the Italian government with Panama. We strongly ask for a prompt intervention and a clear condemnation by the European Institutions, considering the danger of this behaviour. Moreover, we state that once again Minister Salvini used his anti-migrant propaganda for electoral reasons at the expense of the human security and the respect of fundamental rights. We would like to express once again our strong solidarity to NGOs and other organisations working on sea rescue. We also underline the importance of considering migration as a worldwide structural characteristic that should be managed through structural policies, in the full respect of human rights and international humanitarian law.