A German humanitarian rescue ship whose NGO did not sign the new Italian code of conduct regulating migrant rescue activities in the Central Mediterranean was stopped and inspected Wednesday by the Italian Coast Guard.
The "Iuventa" rescue ship of the German NGO Jugend Rettet was ordered to stop by the Italian Coast Guard early in the morning near the Lampedusa coast, and escorted to the nearby port where it was boarded and inspected by Italian authorities.
"The Iuventa was not confiscated. Our Crew is not arrested. What happened is a standard procedure," the humanitarian organization wrote on its Twitter account.
The "Marine Traffic" web application confirmed the boat was currently moored at the port of Lampedusa.
A Jugend Rettet Tweet update noted that, "We received no information about the investigation against us from official sites," and added that, "Our crew was guaranteed that this is a standard process."
However, Italian media said the Trapani prosecutor (Southern Sicily) had asked authorities to retain the ship in port.
The German NGO is one of the humanitarian groups that refused to sign the code of conduct proposed by Italian authorities and backed by the European Union intended to regulate the incoming migrant flow, along with other non-signatory NGO's such as Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Sea Watch and SOS Mediterranee.
Among the NGO's that did sign the code were Save The Children or the Spanish NGO, Proactiva Open Arms.
Among other measures the code forbids NGO's from entering Libyan territorial waters, giving away their position by using maritime radar or using flares to pinpoint their position to human traffickers on the shore.
They will also have to inform about their financial sources, demonstrate they have adequate training in Search And Rescue (SAR) operations, authorizing armed officers to temporarily board their ships and refraining from unloading migrants to another ship instead of sailing them directly back to port.