Migrant Rescue Ship Captain Arrested in Italy

Migrant rescue ship captain, Carola Rackete, was arrested in Italy. Rackete was part of the organization “Sea-Watch” and was the captain of the vessel Sea Watch 3. She was alerted of an inflatable life-raft off the coast of Libya and immediately began searching for the desperate migrants. After safely rescuing the migrants, Rackete began the journey back towards Europe with the only plausible stopping point being Lampedusa (an Italian island). While attempting to dock, Sea Watch 3 was blocked out by police boats as it was carrying migrants/asylum seekers, which strictly violated a relatively new Italian law. Rackete took it upon herself to get these people into the safe haven that is Europe by forcing her way through the blockade, which required the ramming of a police boat, and eventually docking. All passengers were able to disembark and have been granted asylum throughout various countries. Rackete, on the other hand, was taken into custody. Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini, has called Rackete’s actions an “act of war” and considers her to be a threat to Italian national security. Ms. Rackete will now stand trial for her actions; however, a judge has already called for her release from house arrest as she did not commit any act of violence. Not only did the judge rule against the feelings of Prime Minister Salvini, this decision seemed to commend Ms. Rackete’s actions, stating that she had fulfilled her duty to protect life.

Few appear to be in agreeance with Prime Minister Salvini and his historically radical views. In an apparent response to PM Salvini, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier stated in an interview that “Italy is in the middle of the European Union, a founding state of the European Union. And therefore we should be able to expect a nation such as Italy to deal with a case like this in a different way.” Similarly, the director of the London-based Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, Christian Dustmann, told BBC “the way the Italian government has reacted is very much to make migration the joker in the pack, with Salvini trying to cultivate this image of a guy sorting out a problem which he makes out to be much bigger than it is.” With little external support coming the way of the Italian government, Sea-Watch stated that they “will continue to ensure that human rights are respected in the Mediterranean, if necessary with a new ship, if ours remains under seizure.” Finally, after the release of Ms. Rackete, she told the world that the court’s decision was “a big win for solidarity with all people on the move – including refugees migrants and asylum seekers – and against the criminalisation of helpers in many countries across Europe.”

The after-effects of this arrest are yet to be seen. With that being said, it appears as though it has served as a ground for people to show true opposition to PM Salvini. It is possible that some of the more extreme Italian laws, implemented by Salvini, (such as shutting down entrance points for migrants and asylum seekers) will be re-worked. People fleeing areas similar to Libya and Syria have suffered tremendous human rights atrocities and it is the civic duty of the free world to work together in providing these people with the same love and opportunities seen across the globe.