The nearly 100 migrants who had been rescued by a Portuguese-flagged freighter in the Mediterranean Sea landed on Wednesday in Misurata, Libya, confirmed the director of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for Libya, Federico Soda.
“The 98 migrants landed after spending two nights on board a commercial vessel,” wrote the IOM director for Libya on the social network Twitter, without specifying, however, on which vessel these migrants were on for two nights.
However, the Portuguese-flagged vessel only docked in Misurata on Wednesday, after rescuing this group of people and, for this reason, the migrants spent two nights aboard the “Anne” ship.
On Monday night, the weekly Expresso reported that the German cargo ship with the Portuguese flag “Anne” rescued around 100 migrants from the Mediterranean Sea who transferred it to a Libyan Navy ship, a country considered unsafe by the International Rescue Law of Refugees at Sea.
The following day, the Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, told the Lusa agency that he "has every interest" in ascertaining whether the ship that returned migrants to Libya was "involuntarily involved" in a violation of international law, underlining that he fulfilled orders issued by Malta.
The minister safeguarded, however, the importance of investigating the facts before deciding "whether or not there will be a communication to the European authorities".
According to Santos Silva, the facts already established allow us to conclude that the ship “has strictly, and indeed exemplarily, fulfilled all its international obligations”.
“The ship was en route from Malta to Libya, to transport goods, and received an order from the rescue center of Malta to rescue a group of people who were on very precarious vessels at risk of sinking in the Mediterranean Sea. The ship immediately followed this order and rescued around 100 people, ”he explained.
"The ship also followed the order it received from the Malta rescue center to continue its route and transfer people to a Libyan navy ship," he continued.
This second order, communicated to the ship in writing, in an 'email' that the minister saw, “was sent from the rescue center of Malta with these clear instructions, that it should continue its route, that is, that it should not return to Malta, because that is that it is the point, and that you transfer people to a Libyan coast guard ship that was going to meet you ”.
Asked whether Malta refused to disembark the migrants, Santos Silva said that "this is implicit in the second order the ship received", but stressed that he cannot "make definitive judgments based only on implicit ones", needing more information.
Santos Silva also said he could not say “with 100% certainty” that the order given by Malta is contrary to international law, adding that he had given instructions to the legal services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “to seek to gather as much information as possible” to decide whether or not there is a communication to the authorities of the European Union (EU).