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  • Author or Editor: Matilde Rocca x
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After reducing their humanitarian presence at sea, States have begun to interfere with Search and Rescue (SAR) operations led by NGOs aimed to render assistance to migrants in distress. In Italy, the recent Law-Decree 1/2023 on NGOs’ SAR activities constitutes an important development grounding States’ efforts to interfere with activists’ operations. In this article, I first describe the practices of delay and/or denial of disembarkation that Italy has implemented. Second, I consider whether these strategies stemming from national legislation are compliant with the State’s international obligations under the law of the sea. I show how the law of the sea provides some regulation but also leaves crucial gaps which amplify the State’s discretion in interpreting legal duties. Third, I assess how the new Law interferes with the rights of rescuers. I conclude that Italy’s interference with the human rights of rescuers operating at sea is not fully compliant with international legal obligations.

In: European Journal of Migration and Law


Countless people have left the African continent seeking to reach European shores via the central Mediterranean Sea route, despite persistent efforts by Italian and EU authorities to counter migratory activities. International and regional human rights judicial bodies have provided some responses to the abuses faced by maritime migrants both at sea and on land throughout the years. In this case note, I analyze the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in J.A. and Others v. Italy concerning the detention of maritime migrants in the Lampedusa hotspot center. To this end, I first illustrate the facts of the case. Second, I assess each claim made by the applicants in relation to the human rights abuses they suffered: inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary detention, and collective expulsion of aliens. I conclude that the judgment constitutes an important development in the Court’s case law upholding maritime migrants’ rights, albeit characterized by a few shortcomings. I also argue that the Court’s position as a human rights judicial body needs to be further strengthened in the future.

Open Access
In: The Italian Review of International and Comparative Law