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The Latest: Rights chief urges Europe to rescue migrants

By The News · 08 of July 2019 04:38:25
AP Photo,, No available, Migrants rest on their boat as it sails close to the Open Arms aid boat on Sunday June 30, 2019. A Spanish humanitarian group says its rescue ship spotted 40 dehydrated migrants at sea and their boat is now being escorted to the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa. Proactiva Open Arms spokeswoman Laura Lanuza told The Associated Press that three pregnant women and four children are among the passengers on the boat being escorted by Italy's coast guard Sunday. (AP Photo/Olmo Calvo)

MILAN (AP) — The Latest on migration to Europe (all times local):

12:10 p.m.

The Council of Europe is urging European governments to rescue migrants at sea instead of leaving the job to aid groups and Libyan authorities.

The continent’s human rights watchdog released 35 recommendations to governments to balance the need to protect borders and prevent torture or other rights violations.

Council of Europe commissioner Dunja Mijatovic says member states “must assume more responsibility for rescuing migrants at sea, protect migrants’ rights and must avoid punishing NGOs. Saving lives is not a crime.”

Mijatovic assailed increasingly strict European migration policies and European countries’ failure to share responsibility for migrants.

The statement came amid a new standoff between Italy’s populist government and a humanitarian rescue ship. Italy’s government argues it has been unfairly stuck with the burden of managing arrivals from Africa to Europe.

Earlier this week, more than 100 migrants were killed in a drowning off Tunisia and an airstrike on a migrant detention center in Libya.

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8:55 a.m.

An Italian humanitarian group is refusing to bring 54 migrants rescued at sea to Malta because of the distance and psychological conditions of those on board one of its ships, which is being barred from docking in Italy.

Mediterranea Saving Humans tweeted Friday that its ship was off Lampedusa, just outside Italian territorial waters, and that it has been banned from entering Italian jurisdiction by ministerial decree. The migrants were rescued from a rubber dinghy Thursday off Libya.

The NGO said the decree is illegitimate because it can’t be applied to a ship carrying people rescued at sea, and because Italy can’t ban an Italian-flagged ship from entering its waters.

Malta says it will take the migrants in a deal with Italy to take an equal number already in Malta.