Published: June 12, 2019
The female captain of a rescue vessel that saved the lives of hundreds of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean faces up to 20 years in an Italian prison on charges of allegedly aiding illegal migration.
Pia Klemp, who is German, is a member of Sea Watch, an NGO which deploys vessels to rescue asylum seekers trying to escape Libya and reach Europe by boat.
More than 80,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the charges against her to be dropped.
Sea Watch is one of several charities which has had its operations drastically curtailed by the policies of Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister, who a year ago decreed that NGO boats should not be allowed into Italian ports.
Campaigners say that the policy, and the trial that looms for Ms Klemp, is part of the increasing “criminalisation” of legitimate search and rescue efforts off the coast of North Africa.