Donate now! Donation form provided by


Press Release, September 13, 2019

Mare Liberum Wins Appeal in Court

Greek Version: Mare Liberum Pressrelease 13.9. Greek.pdf

On the 5th of September the Administrative court (Oberverwaltungsgericht Hamburg) decided in favor of Mare Liberum. The ship of the non-profit organisation is registered correctly and is allowed to continue monitoring human rights in the Aegean Sea.

In April Mare Liberum had received a detention order from the Berufsgenossenschaft Verkehr. This decision is part of a broader directive from the German Federal Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to the BG Verkehr to impose restrictions on civil rescue ships on the Mediterranean Sea. In May the Administrative Court of Hamburg allowed Mare Liberum to keep sailing. Now the court of appeal decided that the vessel is registered correctly.

“We see justice in the courts decision, as it rejects the political intent of the German Ministry of Transport to block civil solidarity,” says Hanno Bruchmann, spokesperson of Mare Liberum. “This decision is important, because it not only concerns us, but all civil rescue organisations at the European borders. Organisations such as Mission Lifeline are watching, concerned for the same reason. We expect the German administration to lay this case to rest now. The German government must stop sabotaging human rights activism and should support refugees rights instead,” Bruchmann continues.

Over the past two weeks, the Mare Liberum crew witnessed various landings of migrant boats and is investigating a possible illegal pull-back. In August alone, approximately 8.000 people crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek islands—the highest number of crossings since 2016. The majority of refugees trying to cross stem from the war-torn countries of Syria and Afghanistan. Since the beginning of 2019, at least 57 migrants have drowned attempting to making the journey from Turkey to Greece.

The mission of human rights-monitoring is very much needed in the Aegean and beyond, and Mare Liberum is now looking for more support. “We are in need of not only financial support, but also more people who actively support our organisation,” explains Bruchmann.

More information: News

Press release 15th of May 2019

Mare Liberum wins in court

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.


Please also sign in for our newsletter: sign in


Press release 29th of april 2019

The human rights monitoring ship Mare Liberum is being prevented from leaving port.

The Berlin based non-governmental organization (NGO) Mare Liberum e.V. conducts human rights monitoring in the Aegean Sea to draw attention to the deadly sea route between Turkey and Greece. The aim is to strengthen solidarity and promote fundamental human rights.

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transportation (Bundesverkehrsministeriums) sent an order of suspension for the ship Mare Liberum to the German association of traffic and transportation (Berufsgenossenschaft Verkehr)--which handles the registration, licenses and flags for ships--to further scrutinize civil rescue vessels in the Mediterranean Sea.

“The ministry of transportation, led by the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) politician Andreas Scheuer, apparently wants to perfidiously prevent any civil presence in the Mediterranean Sea to document human rights violations and the effects of the European Union’s deadly border policy. We are urging for an accelerated response to repeal the decision,” says Hanno Bruchmann, spokesperson for Mare Liberum e.V.

The suspension order presupposes that Mare Liberum is a rescue ship which should be classified in the same category as commercial freightliner and not, as hitherto customary, as a sport and leisure boat.

The crew on Mare Liberum observes--without pay and in their spare time--the human rights situation in the Aegean Sea. With Mare Liberum’s presence on the water, authorities should be more inclined to rescue refugees and migrants and adhere to basic human rights standards while doing so. The ship Mare Liberum was never operated as a freightliner; nevertheless, the authorities incorrectly compare the 1917 built fishing boat which was converted to a houseboat in 1964 as a ship holding containers or tank vessels. The classification of Mare Liberum as a commercial vessel imposes equipment requirements that cannot be fulfilled by Mare Liberum.

“The claim that we operate a freightliner leaves us stunned. It is an insult to our volunteers that our dedication for human rights is not recognized,” said Bruchmann.


Please also sign in for our newsletter: sign in


These images are freely available for use in the press.

Mare Liberum monitoring human rights in 2018