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Stefano Belacchi / SOS MEDITERRANEE

[STATEMENT] The French Human Rights Consultative Commission calls on France to “defend the effective implementation of migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean”


SOS MEDITERRANEE welcomes the strong declaration issued by the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) acknowledging the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Mediterranean and urging France,as part of the European Union, to fulfil its duty to search and rescue lives at sea. 

According to the CNCDH, the Mediterranean is the deadliest migratory route in the world, with “more than 28,000 known deaths recorded since 2014, i.e. 7 to 8 deaths a day for the past 10 years.”  

In the declaration published on October 19th, 2023, the CNCDH reiterates that, “in the face of these tragedies, saving human lives should be the priority of all those involved” and “calls on the public authorities to finally put an end to this indignity by taking the necessary measures to fulfil their duty to search for and assist shipwrecked people.”  

Furthermore, in its declaration, the CNCDH:  

  • reiterates that “no provision for managing migratory flows and combating illegal immigration can justify abandoning the obligations arising from the application of international law, particularly in terms of safeguarding life at sea.”
  • “calls for the recognition of the Central Mediterranean Sea and other theatres of humanitarian crises on the high seas as humanitarian spaces. Such recognition would send a strong political signal from the French government.” 
  • points out that NGOs operating in International waters “play a vital role in rescue operations in the Mediterranean, and that rather than hindering their rescue efforts, the legitimacy of their actions must be defended, and their resources strengthened.” 
  • states that: “it is essential to put in place mechanisms to hold third States to account. These “accountability” mechanisms will make it possible to guarantee transparency, particularly regarding the use of funding granted to the Libyan and Tunisian authorities, and more generally to better control the practices of States with regard to migrants.” 
  • “calls on France to work towards increasing search and rescue capacities, including aerial search and rescue capacities. This must lead to effective coordination of search and rescue activities in the Mediterranean, with all the riparian countries concerned and the support of the EU. Along with this cooperation, all obstacles impeding the action of rescue vessels must be removed.” 


A few days only after the commemoration of the 10 years of the deadly Lampedusa shipwreck and in a context where the number of fatalities and missing persons in the Mediterranean has reached its highest level since 2017, SOS MEDITERRANEE hopes that France will take note of this declaration, along with all the Member States of the European Union. 



About the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) 

Founded in 1947 on the initiative of Nobel Peace Prize winner René Cassin, the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights is France’s national institution for the protection and promotion of human rights, accredited by the United Nations. 

Read the CNCDH declaration (in French) – Rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean: the CNCDH adopts a declaration:  



Cover Picture: Stefano Belacchi / SOS MEDITERRANEE