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British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL): Private vessels have the duty to rescue migrants & respect human rights at sea


'BIICL publishes new report: When Private Vessels Rescue Migrants and Refugees', November 24, 2020

The report, which is the main output of a Mirpuri Foundation funded research project, explores the law around search and rescue particularly from the perspective of private vessels. It does so by undertaking a systemic analysis of how the UNGP's Second Pillar principles apply in the rescue context and by highlighting the commercial implications of search and rescue including deviation and delays... Masters and shipowners must ensure that they have policies in place, as well as equipment and training to prevent and refrain from contributing to human rights violations... Finally, the report covers the role of States including the due diligence obligations of flag States to ensure vessels flying their flag abide both by the obligation to rescue and other international law requirements, and of coastal States to both cooperate in ensuring that disembarkation is allowed promptly and that instructions in violation of international law are not given. The report argues that by instructing private vessels to return persons to unsafe countries, SAR States are responsible both because the instruction itself is in violation of human rights standards, and through instructing and directing a wrongful act...