Frontex has made serious accusations about NGOs active in and around the Mediterranean Sea. According to Frontex, aid organisations conspire with people smugglers to bring asylum-seekers from North Africa to a European port, despite the fact that, for example, the port of Zarzis in Tunisia is far closer.
I have already tabled a written question, comprising three sub-questions, the first two of which remained unanswered. The Commission merely replied that it was the responsibility of the relevant national rescue coordination centre (RCC) to identify the most appropriate places for disembarking persons, in the light, inter alia, of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Guidelines.
I therefore reiterate my questions, because I feel too strongly about this issue to cease to pursue it without having received any clear answers.
1. Does the Commission agree that these, by definition, nongovernmental organisations, unlike states, are legally permitted to bring people rescued at sea directly back to a suitable safe port in North Africa?
2. If not, what legal provisions prevent this?
3. If they are permitted to do so, on the basis of what authority does the Libyan RCC order NGO vessels to deliver irregular migrants who have been rescued off the coast of Libya to Europe, knowing that the ‘right of asylum’ does not extend to the coast of North Africa?