C-Star : FIDH calls on Mongolia to withdraw its flag of convenience from racist boat

Press release
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Paris, August 23, 2017 – Chartered by European identitarian and xenophobic groups, the C-Star (“racist” in reverse) and its crew claimed this summer to hinder the efforts of NGOs to rescue Mediterranean boat-people. The boat completed an eventful first mission, still flying a flag of convenience granted by Mongolia. FIDH is sending a letter today to the Mongolian Minister of Transports, asking for the boat’s deregistration, as the Defend Europe collective’s objectives are contrary to both the Mongolian Constitution and international maritime law.

The mission of Defend Europe extremists started in Djibouti last July 7th, publicly presenting three objectives: to hinder the work of the NGOs which rescue boat-people, to bring these people back to Libyan coasts, and to destroy their boats.

These objectives are in flagrant opposition with the unconditional obligation made to all ships to rescue those in need at sea, as stated in Article 98 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS Convention) and to Article 33 of Chapter V of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS Convention). These objectives also violate the obligation to bring any refugee or asylum seeker to a safe harbour, as stated in the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR Convention), which cannot be the case if it is to a Libyan port. Finally, these objectives are also contrary to the principle of non-refoulement enshrined in the Geneva Convention on Refugees, as well as in Article 14 of the Constitution of Mongolia, which condemns any type of discrimination.

The registration of a ship to fly a country’s flag engages the responsibility of the concerned State. Article 5 of the 1956 Geneva Convention on the High Seas, ratified by Mongolia, specifies that "There must exist a genuine link between the State and the ship; in particular, the State must effectively exercise its jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical and social matters over ships flying its flag". A principle repeated in article 91 of the 1982 United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea.

This is why FIDH is today sending a letter to Mr. Dangaa GANBAT, Minister of Road and Transport Development of Mongolia, to ask him to deregister the C-Star. Such a withdrawal of Mongolia’s flag from the C-Star is possible, as showed by the recent deregistration of North Korean boats by Mongolia, following resolutions 2270 and 2321 of the UN Security Council.

The C-Star was bought for its summer mission by controversial businessman Sven Tomas Egerstrom, convicted for fraud in the 2000s and linked to several private security companies operating in the Gulf of Aden. Barely out of its home port, the C-Star was stopped on July 16 in the Suez Canal by Egyptian authorities, as it was unable to provide proper documentation to continue its route. Soon after, on 26 July, the commander, his second in command, the owner of the ship and seven crew members were detained in Famagusta, suspected of forgery. Part of the boat’s crew, Sri Lankan nationals, disembarked and claimed political asylum. At the beginning of August, the C-Star approached the Tunisian coast, without being able to dock, as fishermen and other Tunisians had launched an anti-racism campaign against the boat’s refuelling, with the support of FIDH member leagues such as the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES). After the end of its shameful mission, the boat is now off Malta, whose authorities deny its access to the countries’ ports, stating they want to "have nothing to do with a racist organization".

Follow the C-Star’s position on marinetraffic.com

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