RNLI issues defiant statement regarding migrant rescues
The RNLI has issued a defiant statement defining its position as a life saving charity after a torrent of social media abuse. Seemingly, the charity experienced a backlash after a national newspaper criticised its life saving missions which include helping migrants who are in danger.
“Our charity exists to save lives at sea. Our mission is to save every one, our lifesavers are compelled to go to those in need without judgement of how they came to be in the water. They have done so since the RNLI was founded in 1824 and this will always be our ethos,” says the RNLI statement.
According to the Daily Mail “the Royal National Lifeboat Institution — the registered charity so many of us help fund through donations, garden fetes and collection boxes — is regularly sending its vessels into French waters to bring in migrants.”
“We want to be absolutely clear that we are incredibly proud of the humanitarian work our volunteer lifeboat crews do to rescue vulnerable people in distress,” says the RNLI.
The charity points out that: “We are not border control and, once a rescue is complete, we hand over responsibilities for casualties to UK Border Force and / or the police.”
It’s also vowed to keep saving anyone in peril at sea despite provisions in draft legislation that barristers say could threaten volunteers with life imprisonment for picking up asylum seekers, according to the Financial Times.
Immigration experts have warned that Clause 38 of the nationality and borders bill potentially criminalises rescues of asylum seekers if they were deemed to constitute “facilitating” their arrival in the UK, says the Financial Times.
Clause 38 amends an offence under the 1971 Immigration Act of assisting an asylum seeker. The clause increases the maximum sentence to life imprisonment, from 14 years, and removes the words “for gain”, which previously limited prosecutions to paid people smugglers.
“We are a life-saving charity and, under maritime law and the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (Solas), our volunteer lifeboat crews will always go to the aid of those in danger at sea,” says the RNLI.
The Home Office says the new bill targets ‘ruthless criminal gangs’ and that organisations and individuals will be able to continue to rescue those in distress in the sea.
The Daily Mail says two migrants were pulled out of the sea after falling into the water from their inflatable boat as they crossed the English Channel this weekend.
An RNLI inshore lifeboat had to be launched following reports two people wearing lifejackets were in the water after falling off a rigid hulled inflatable boat with around 20 people onboard.
The voluntary crew of the Ramsgate lifeboat then towed the drifting rib into Ramsgate harbour in Kent where Border Force officers were waiting for them.
Main image courtesy of RNLI Ramsgate.