Rome court permits migrant ship to enter Italy’s waters


A Spanish rescue ship carrying around 150 migrants will now be granted access to Italian territorial waters following a ruling by an administrative court in Rome on Wednesday.

The ruling came in defiance of a ban imposed by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini who said the humanitarian vessel should not be allowed to dock.

The charity vessel Open Arms had appealed to the court to let it come to Italy, saying international maritime law meant it had a right to bring the migrants to safety.

Open Arms’ founder Oscar Camps said the boat would now set sail for the Italian island of Lampedusa. Once in Italian waters, the NGO will request medical evacuation for all those on board, Camps added.

“This is another step forward. We may be able to disembark sooner than expected,” Camps said. “We can enter Italian waters without fear of being fined or having the boat confiscated”.

Salvini has however responded that he would continue to refuse the ship entry regardless of the ruling “because I will never be an accomplice to human traffickers”.

The Interior Minister had on Tuesday said he would block both the Open Arms and another vessel operated by French charities, the Ocean Viking, from bringing to Italy more than 500 migrants they had picked up off Libya since last week.

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