Sputnik: Both Italy and Malta have refused to accept the migrants from the Acquarius ship. Can you tell us who exactly under the existing law is responsible for this ship?
Riccardo Cascioli: That's the question. Usually, the law considers that you have to take the immigrants, the people in danger to the harbor that is the nearest. And so Malta has the obligation to set them. They refused then because they said they have no facilities for this. But that's the question now that comes up because all the other European ports in the Mediterranean have practically closed their harbors, their ports.
Only Italy until now has accepted migrants, but now the situation has changed. This issue of Italian government is also a way to provoke reaction from the European Union so that they should intervene to oblige Malta to take the immigrants if they want to continue to close their eyes to this trafficking led by the NGOs in the Mediterranean. Or otherwise, the European Union should intervene and say: "now, that's enough; we can't allow this human trafficking from Northern Africa to Europe."
Sputnik: Currently, under the law I understand that migrants must apply for the refugee status in the country they first arrive to. So, by allowing the ship to enter the port, Malta would in fact have to accept these migrants and process them as asylum seekers. Is that correct?
Riccardo Cascioli: Yes. That's correct. The question is that now we have a circulation of migrants in the Mediterranean that is absolutely unbearable for any country. The real thing at stake is to stop this trafficking because not a single country can really face the situation, and so this position by the Italian government is very important to try to make the European Union policy change, open their eyes to what's happening.
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