Berlin (dpa) – The crew of the Iuventa migrant rescue ship has been awarded Amnesty International’s human rights prize for 2020, the German branch of the rights group announced on Tuesday.
Amnesty lauded Iuventa’s crew members for rescuing more than 14,000 people at sea between July 2016 and August 2017, adding that the roughly 200 volunteers have faced legal action in Italy for their humanitarian work.
“The Iuventa crew stands for all the volunteers who work on water and on land to help people seeking protection to survive. Amnesty International therefore honours them with the Amnesty Human Rights Award 2020 on behalf of all these human rights defenders,” said Markus Beeko, secretary general for Amnesty International Germany.
The Iuventa vessel belongs to the German non-governmental organization Jugend Rettet (Youth Saves), which works to protect migrants embarking on the Mediterranean sea route to Europe.
Jugend Rettet’s boat was impounded by prosecutors in Sicily in 2017, accused of agreeing to migrant rescue pick-ups with Libyan traffickers.
Amnesty has denied the charges. Members of the Iuventa crew have had their phones tapped and been followed by undercover investigators, the organization said. Ten are being investigated by Italian prosecutors.
“The award shows that we are not alone in this fight,” the Iuventa captain, identified as Dariush, was quoted in the Amnesty statement as saying.