In its decision on 13 May, the Administrative Court of Hamburg fully granted permission for the urgent application of the human rights monitoring organisation Mare Liberum e.V. to set sail. According to this decision, the association's ship may leave the port for the time being in order to document the human rights situation in the Aegean Sea.
On 23 April Mare Liberum had received a detention order from the Berufsgenossenschaft Verkehr. The background to this decision is a directive from the Federal Ministry of Transport to the BG Verkehr to impose restrictions on civil rescue ships on the Mediterranean Sea. Our ship MARE LIBERUM is registered as a motor yacht. According to the detention order, the 21 meter ship is suddenly required to fulfil safety requirements for freighters. The Administrative Court ruled: "After an examination of the factual and legal situation, the detention order of the respondent should prove to be illegal".
"According to this reasoning, the BG Verkehr would have to recognise that the MARE LIBERUM has valid certificates. The court follows our arguments. The opinion of the BG Verkehr was too obviously influenced by the political will to sabotage our work. The Ministry of Transport led by the right-wing CSU politician Andreas Scheuer has no legal basis to prevent non-profit associations from civil sea rescue and human rights monitoring. The attack is directed against all organizations active on the Mediterranean", said Hanno Bruchmann, spokesman for Mare Liberum, after the decision.
While the MARE LIBERUM was restricted in port, at least six people drowned in the strait between Turkey and Greece while attempting to cross. There was at least one illegal push-back in the Aegean Sea, during which a refugee boat that had already been in European waters was forced back to Turkey. The absence of independent observers turned this area into a black hole, from which less and less information is reaching the public. The Federal Government recently replied to a question from parliament stating it would "oppose general criminalisation and the obstruction of the activities of private sea rescue workers". The decree of the Ministry of Transport, however, is explicitly directed against private sea rescue ships on the Mediterranean.
"The decree of the Ministry of Transport must be withdrawn. The crew of the MARE LIBERUM can now prepare for departure again. But we are still facing this threatening situation and so are all the organisations operating in the Mediterranean. As long as government agencies do not fulfil their tasks, private sea rescue and human rights monitoring must be supported instead of sabotaged," says Bruchmann.
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