Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) joins the calls of over 300 academics and thought-leaders for an investigation into the migrant shipwreck tragedy on 14 June 2023, off the coast of Pylos, Greece.
caused international outcry, with major organizations as well as individual people calling for an independent investigation into the circumstances that lead to the loss of approximately 650 people.n June 14th, a fishing boat carrying hundreds of migrants and refugees capsized off the coast of Greece, with only 104 survivors found. The tragic incident
HRAS has signed a letter which restates the relevant legal position and emphasises that Greece has not only the right but, importantly, the duty to intervene, assist and rescue those on board irrespective of their status as migrants or smugglers, regardless of whether they asked for or refused assistance, even though the incident took place on the high seas.
Contrary to popular belief, for the purposes of search and rescue, the high seas or international waters are divided into zones between states. In this case, the migrant boat in distress was within Greece’s search and rescue zone, and therefore Greece had a legal duty to rescue
… said Dr. Elizabeth Mavropoulou, Lecturer in International Law (University of Westminster), one of the initiators of the letter, and former Human Rights at Sea Head of Research
The letter is undersigned by academics internationally specialising in the areas of migration, asylum, refugee and human rights law, public international law, law of the sea and international criminal law.
The signatories of the letter emphasise that this incident highlights the urgent need to address the issue of pushbacks and the practice of ‘delayed/non-assistance’ in the Mediterranean.
According to the signatories, these practices not only undermine well-established legal obligations but also cast doubt on fundamental principles of international law and, more importantly, are leading to tragedies at sea.
The letter also calls for an independent investigation into whether Frontex took all reasonably expected steps after its first sighting of the vessel to protect the lives of the passengers.
If an incident with this level of loss had occurred on land, I don’t doubt the response would be different. Human lives should not have less value just because people are on the seas.
… said Martyn Illingworth, Head of Operations at Human Rights at Sea
The letter remains open for signatures, and the number of signatories is continuously growing. The full text of the open letter and the list of signatories can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/19wcuWxgOkRh1KnNkz2kNOsrK4RfjA-uieYH5KfWnbxc/edit?fbclid=IwAR2v8v0gNTI-asJnoJpYUPVk8X5FVZ_Zs6FmralQpLTkLfdrYHOKbBPDuyo
The letter has been sent to the international Press, the Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs, the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, the Prime Minister of Greece, the European Commissioner Johansson, and the Executive Director of Frontex.