Prosecutors are investigating whether Doctors Without Borders facilitates illegalized migration, Italian media report. Rescuers allegedly aided distressed people on the Mediterranean without alerting Italy's coast guard.
The Italian branch of Nobel Peace Prize-winning nongovernmental organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has become the target of an investigation, according to multiple media outlets.
In a statement released to Italian media late Wednesday, MSF reported having had no contact with prosecutors. However, the NGO stands ready to explain its work on the Mediterranean Sea, which MSF called "perfectly in line with international and national laws."
Corriere della Sera reported that prosecutors had begun probing MSF for allegedly helping distressed people at sea without first notifying Italy's coast guard, and for telling survivors not to cooperate with national and EU border authorities once they reach dry land. Prosecutors also accuse MSF staff of passing off legal adults as minors in lists of people rescued at sea, the newspaper reported on Thursday. Legal minors have a greater chance of receiving asylum than adults, according to Italian and EU law.
Several other Italian dailies, including Il Messaggero and Il Fatto Quotidiano, carried similar allegations against MSF, though none of the articles offered clear sourcing. Thursday's reports came a day after a prosecutor told an Italian Senate committee that he had investigated people who had worked with a different, unidentified NGO on suspicion of contributing to illegalized migration, but that he could not necessarily find grounds on which to punish them.
mkg/rc (dpa, Corriere della Sera)