Email from Aquarius to UNHCR, copying Tunisian Navy

“Dear Sirs,

I understand that you intend to carry out some remote interviews with the survivors on board the Aquarius and offer some guidance to the ship as regards their special circumstances. I fully appreciate your support and I am ready to facilitate the interviews from tomorrow morning upon request. Please can you detail the process so we can explain it to the rescued people?

Please acknowledge

Best Regards”

Legal references:

1951 Refugee Convention

Article 33: Prohibition of expulsion or return (“refoulement”)

“No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” [Click here for legal reference]

UNHCR Advisory Opinion on the Extraterritorial Application of Non-Refoulement Obligations under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol
Paragraph 24:
For the reasons set out below, UNHCR is of the view that the purpose, intent and meaning of Article 33(1) of the 1951 Convention are unambiguous and establish an obligation not to return a refugee or asylum-seeker to a country where he or she would be risk of persecution  or other serious harm, which applies wherever a State exercises jurisdiction, including at the frontier, on the high seas or on the territory of another State. [Click here for legal reference]
Paragraph 5.Shipmaster:
“Shipmaster should […] comply with any relevant requirements of the Government responsible for the SAR region where the survivors were recovered, or of another responding coastal State, and seek additional guidance from those authorities where difficulties arise in complying with such requirements.” [Click here for legal reference]