Italy threatens to get even tougher on migrant rescue ships

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has threatened to use  new measures for the first time on German rescue ship Sea Watch after the vessel picked up migrants off the coast of Libya without authorization.

Salvini said on Wednesday June 12th that “this is the umpteenth time Sea Watch, which is a real pirate ship, has done something like this”.

Salvini is head of the League party, which is the junior partner in a coalition with 5Star but which recently has been outperforming it in the polls.

The Italian government on Tuesday approved a security decree that gives the Interior Ministry the power to deny access to Italian territorial waters to vessels that it considers are a risk to security or public order. Vessels that transgress face fines of up to €50,000.

The new decree did not specify that rescue ships were the intended target, but Salvini had previously promised to halt their operations.

Sea Watch had picked up 52 people from a rubber boat that was about 47 miles from Libya. Sea Watch said that the boat had been in distress. It added that although the Libyan coastguard had announced it would take charge of the rescue, it had been in no position so to do.