Aquarius informs Libyan JRCC, ITMRCC and RCC Malta by email that it cannot proceed to transfer due to Libyan ports not conforming to the definition of places of safety.

“Dear Sir,

Please be informed that following the assessment of the situation, and because of the necessity to provide immediate assistance without delay to the people in distress, I have performed the rescue of the SAR Case. I am currently patrolling with [11] survivors on board, under medical care. Most of the survivors are physically or mentally deeply traumatized.

Libyan Coast Guard requested us to transfer the survivors to their vessel to bring them to a Libyan port. I have all the reason to believe that none of the Libyan ports are a place of safety for the survivors. I also have all reason to believe that a transfer operation would jeopardize the safety of the rescued people and my crew because of a risk of panic.

Therefore, as per the SAR Convention we cannot and should not transfer rescued people to Libyan Coast Guard and I request you to help to provide us a place of safety for disembarking the survivors of the SAR Case within a reasonable time.

My ship has the capacity to provide adequate medical and humanitarian care to the survivors.

I consider this situation as a security threat for my crew, my ship and the survivors. I have tried to contact JRCC by phone but have had no reply.”

After the rescue, survivors must be disembarked in a place of safety as outlined by the SOLAS convention, regulation 33-4 : “The contracting Government responsible for the SAR Region in which such assistance is rendered shall exercise primary responsibility for ensuring such coordination and cooperation occurs, so that survivors assisted are disembarked from the assisting ship and delivered to a place of safety, taking in account the particular circumstances of the case and guidelines developed by the Organization. In these cases, the relevant Contracting Governments shall arrange for such disembarkation to be effected as soon as reasonably practicable”.

A place of safety must be a place where survivors’ fundemental needs and rights are met, according to IMO Resolution MSC.167 (78): “A place of safety (as referred to in the Annex to the 1979 SAR Convention, paragraph 1.3.2) is a location where rescue operations are considered to terminate. It is also a place where the survivors’ safety of life is no longer threatened and where their basic human needs (such as food, shelter and medical needs) can be met”. “The need to avoid disembarkation in territories where the lives and freedoms of those alleging a well-founded fear of persecution would be threatened is a consideration in the case of asylum-seekers and refugees recovered at sea”.