Rome – Forty-seven migrants were disembarked Sunday night in Lampedusa, an island south of Sicily, after the seizure of their rescue boat by order of justice, angering Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.
The ship chartered by the Dutch-flagged German NGO Sea-Watch, which was stationed in Italian waters near the island of Lampedusa, was seized by the Italian financial police that day by order of a Sicilian prosecutor.
Then, the migrants on board were transferred by motorcycle-stars to the mainland at the end of the evening. A decision that Mr Salvini – also Deputy Prime Minister and head of the League (far right) – appeared to discover in real time on television, causing him to ask who in the government could have made such a decision against his formal opinion.
Already at loggerheads with him, his five-star government partner Luigi Di Maio retorted that he did not accept his insinuations, recalling that it was mandatory to land the passengers of a boat seized by justice .
Parallel to this new government quarrel in the middle of the campaign for the European elections, clashes took place Sunday evening in Florence (center) between police and 2,000 people came to protest against the presence of Mr. Salvini who held a political rally in the city.
On Sunday, the head of the League had judged the critics of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) against a plan to toughen anti-migration legislation in Italy.
The UN, "an international organization that costs taxpayers billions of euros, which has North Korea and Turkey as members, and who comes to lecture on human rights in Italy? (…) That makes you laugh", commented Mr. Salvini.
A draft decree law, which could be submitted Monday to the Council of Ministers, proposes to give the Minister of the Interior the power to prohibit Italian territorial waters to a ship for reasons of public order.
The text also provides for a fine of 3,500 to 5,500 euros per migrant arrived in Italy for any rescue ship that did not comply with the instructions of the competent coastguards in the area where it would have intervened.
In its letter sent to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, OHCHR asks Italy not to approve this new decree-law.