Tunisia has remained silent as an international standoff over the fate of a group of migrants stranded on board an oil tanker enters its 38th day.
Some 27 people – including a pregnant woman and a minor – along with the crew of the Danish-flagged Maersk Etienne remain docked at Hurd’s Bank off the coast of Malta.
Both Denmark and Malta insist that the migrants were rescued in Tunisian waters when they were picked up by the oil tanker on August 4.
“The Danish government’s assessment is that Tunisia should shoulder responsibility for receiving the 27 people… this is an overall juridical assessment that among other things is based on the fact that the ship’s planned destination was Tunisia and that the migrants were rescued close to Tunisia,” a Danish immigration spokesperson told Times of Malta.
“It is therefore the assessment that Tunisia, by virtue of the international maritime conventions SOLAS and SAR, was originally the country closest to allowing a disembarkation of the migrants.”
Questions sent to the Tunisian Foreign Affairs have not yet been answered.
Human Rights Watch spokesman Kenneth Roth on Thursday questioned whether “the fact that a month later the EU still hasn’t let [the 27 people] come ashore shamefully suggests it would rather commercial ships let migrants drown at sea.”
Earlier this week the International Chamber of Shipping called on the International Maritime Organisation to intervene in the standoff to “send a clear message that states must ensure that maritime SAR incidents are resolved in accordance with the letter and spirit of international law”.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us