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State Jurisdiction in Search and Rescue Operations - The Extraterritorial Reach of the European Convention on Human Rights and S.S. and Others v. Italy

Airaksinen, Nadja LU (2020) JURM02 20201
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract
Every year thousands of refugees and migrants take on perilous journeys and
cross the Mediterranean, hoping to reach safety and a better life in Europe.
These so-called “boat people” often travel on overcrowded and unseaworthy
dinghies and regrettably, many lives are lost each year.

To protect the lives of those at sea, coastal States have established Rescue Coordination
Centres with the purpose of receiving distress calls and
coordinating maritime rescue operations. While the safety of those being
rescued should arguably be prioritized, the Italian Maritime Rescue and
Coordination Centre routinely instructs the Libyan Coastguard – known to act
violently towards migrants and refugees and pull them back to Libya – to
participate... (More)
Every year thousands of refugees and migrants take on perilous journeys and
cross the Mediterranean, hoping to reach safety and a better life in Europe.
These so-called “boat people” often travel on overcrowded and unseaworthy
dinghies and regrettably, many lives are lost each year.

To protect the lives of those at sea, coastal States have established Rescue Coordination
Centres with the purpose of receiving distress calls and
coordinating maritime rescue operations. While the safety of those being
rescued should arguably be prioritized, the Italian Maritime Rescue and
Coordination Centre routinely instructs the Libyan Coastguard – known to act
violently towards migrants and refugees and pull them back to Libya – to
participate in Search and Rescue (SAR) operations of boat people on the
Mediterranean. Thus far, Italy’s coordination and involvement of the Libyan
Coastguard in SAR operations has remained unchallenged, but currently a
case against Italy regarding SAR coordination – S.S. and Others v. Italy – is
pending before the European Court of Human Rights.

Whether or not Italy can be held responsible for any alleged violations of the
European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) because of its SAR
coordination, depends on whether the Court will find that the applicants were
within Italy’s jurisdiction under art. 1 ECHR.

This thesis finds that in previous interception cases, jurisdiction has been
triggered through States’ exercise of physical control under the personal
model of jurisdiction, and that it is not obvious how the Court will rule in the
present case, where Italy has not (directly) exercised such physical control.
By applying the doctrinal legal research method, this thesis therefore
examines scholarly suggestions and other strands of case law to assess
whether the Court could adopt a different approach to jurisdiction in S.S. and
Others v. Italy.

First, this thesis investigates the suggestions of legal scholars Trevisanut and
Papastavridis, who propose by reference to the Court’s case law on the right
to life and emergency situations that the receival of a distress call could be
considered to trigger what they call “long distance de facto control” because
of the impact that the SAR coordinating State has over the lives of the persons
in distress. While such a finding would allow the Court to stick to the controlbased
understanding of jurisdiction, this thesis finds that the notion of “long
distance de facto control”, not involving physical control, lacks doctrinal
support.

Second, this thesis explores the propositions of legal scholars Pijnenburg and
Gammeltoft-Hansen and finds that instead of resorting to the control-based
notion of jurisdiction, the Court could resort to the so-called extraterritorial
effects doctrine. Based on the doctrine, the Court could find that the Italian
coordination of the SAR operations conducted from Rome had the effect of
violating the applicants’ human rights outside Italian territory, thereby
triggering art. 1 ECHR. Such a finding would require the Court to rule that
there was a direct and immediate causal link between the coordination and
the alleged violations, but because of the scarce case law on the matter, it is
difficult to foresee whether the present link would suffice. Although the
doctrine has not been applied to the same extent as control-based jurisdiction,
this thesis concludes that the doctrine could apply to SAR coordination over
distance and could prove to be crucial in ensuring that European States
maintain humane standards during SAR operations. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Varje år färdas tusentals flyktingar och migranter över Medelhavet i hopp om
att nå säkerhet och ett bättre liv i Europa. Färderna genomförs ofta på
överfulla och sjöodugliga gummibåtar, vilket förödande nog resulterar i att
flera människor drunknar varje år.

För att skydda dem som färdas till havs har flera kustländer inrättat
sjöräddningscentraler som ska ta emot nödsamtal och koordinera
räddningsoperationer. Även om det kan tyckas att de nödsattas säkerhet borde
väga tyngst, instruerar den italienska sjöräddningscentralen ofta den libyska
kustbevakningen att delta i räddningsoperationer trots flertalet rapporter om
libyska pull-backs och kustbevakningens våldsamma agerande gentemot
flyktingar och migranter.

Hittills har... (More)
Varje år färdas tusentals flyktingar och migranter över Medelhavet i hopp om
att nå säkerhet och ett bättre liv i Europa. Färderna genomförs ofta på
överfulla och sjöodugliga gummibåtar, vilket förödande nog resulterar i att
flera människor drunknar varje år.

För att skydda dem som färdas till havs har flera kustländer inrättat
sjöräddningscentraler som ska ta emot nödsamtal och koordinera
räddningsoperationer. Även om det kan tyckas att de nödsattas säkerhet borde
väga tyngst, instruerar den italienska sjöräddningscentralen ofta den libyska
kustbevakningen att delta i räddningsoperationer trots flertalet rapporter om
libyska pull-backs och kustbevakningens våldsamma agerande gentemot
flyktingar och migranter.

Hittills har Italiens koordinering kunnat fortgå obehindrat, men år 2018
väcktes en talan mot Italien vid Europadomstolen. Målet har fått namnet S.S.
and Others v. Italy, och huruvida Italien kan hållas ansvarigt för den libyska
kustbevakningens våldsamma agerande och pull-backs, på grund av att ha
koordinerat räddningsoperationen i målet, beror på om Italien kan anses ha
utövat jurisdiktion över sökandena i fråga enligt art. 1 i Europakonventionen.

Denna uppsats identifierar att jurisdiktion i tidigare mål hos Europadomstolen
avseende förhindrande av framfart till havs (interceptions) uppstått då Stater
utövat fysisk kontroll över sökandena i fråga. Det är således inte uppenbart
hur domstolen kommer förhålla sig till denna fråga i S.S. and Others v. Italy,
då Italien inte (direkt) utövat sådan fysisk kontroll som tidigare varit
jurisdiktionsgrundande. Uppsatsen utreder därför genom den rättsdogmatiska
metoden på vilka sätt, utöver utövandet av fysisk kontroll, jurisdiktion kan
uppstå vid koordineringen av räddningsoperationer. Uppsatsen har undersökt
både doktrin och rättspraxis för att besvara denna frågeställning.

Uppsatsen undersöker först de förslag som framförts av Trevisanut och
Papastavridis. Enligt dem skulle nödsamtal kunna anses ge upphov till vad de
kallar ”long distance de facto control”, som följer av den makt som Staten
vars räddningscentral mottagit samtalet utövar över de nödsattas liv.
Uppsatsen visar att även om förslagen skulle tillåta domstolen att fortsätta
förstå jurisdiktion som kontroll, är det osannolikt att domstolen kommer följa
Trevisanuts och Papastavridis resonemang, som saknar stöd i både rättspraxis
och litteratur.

Uppsatsen behandlar också förslag ifrån Pijnenburg och Gammeltoft-Hansen,
enligt vilka domstolen, istället för att undersöka kontroll, skulle kunna
använda sig av doktrinen om extraterritoriella effekter. Enligt denna doktrin
skulle Italien kunna anses ha utövat jurisdiktion under art. 1
Europakonventionen då koordineringen av räddningsoperationerna de utfört
från Rom har haft effekten att sökandenas mänskliga rättigheter kränkts
utanför Italiens territorium. Detta förutsätter dock att det enligt domstolen
funnits ett tillräckligt nära kausalsamband mellan koordineringen och de
påstådda kränkningarna, vilket är svårt att förutspå genom en läsning av
domstolens nuvarande rättspraxis. Trots att doktrinen om extraterritoriella
effekter inte tillämpats i samma utsträckning som den kontrollbaserade
tolkningen av jurisdiktion, finner denna uppsats att doktrinen om
extraterritoriella effekter kan vara tillämplig vid koordineringen av
räddningsoperationer och därför vara avgörande för att försäkra att Europa
upprätthåller en human nivå på framtida räddningsoperationer. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Airaksinen, Nadja LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM02 20201
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
folkrätt, jurisdiction, human rights, search and rescue operations, interceptions, mänskliga rättigheter, migration, public international law
language
English
id
9010646
date added to LUP
2020-06-16 20:17:41
date last changed
2020-06-16 20:17:41
@misc{9010646,
  abstract     = {Every year thousands of refugees and migrants take on perilous journeys and
cross the Mediterranean, hoping to reach safety and a better life in Europe.
These so-called “boat people” often travel on overcrowded and unseaworthy
dinghies and regrettably, many lives are lost each year.

To protect the lives of those at sea, coastal States have established Rescue Coordination
Centres with the purpose of receiving distress calls and
coordinating maritime rescue operations. While the safety of those being
rescued should arguably be prioritized, the Italian Maritime Rescue and
Coordination Centre routinely instructs the Libyan Coastguard – known to act
violently towards migrants and refugees and pull them back to Libya – to
participate in Search and Rescue (SAR) operations of boat people on the
Mediterranean. Thus far, Italy’s coordination and involvement of the Libyan
Coastguard in SAR operations has remained unchallenged, but currently a
case against Italy regarding SAR coordination – S.S. and Others v. Italy – is
pending before the European Court of Human Rights.

Whether or not Italy can be held responsible for any alleged violations of the
European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) because of its SAR
coordination, depends on whether the Court will find that the applicants were
within Italy’s jurisdiction under art. 1 ECHR.

This thesis finds that in previous interception cases, jurisdiction has been
triggered through States’ exercise of physical control under the personal
model of jurisdiction, and that it is not obvious how the Court will rule in the
present case, where Italy has not (directly) exercised such physical control.
By applying the doctrinal legal research method, this thesis therefore
examines scholarly suggestions and other strands of case law to assess
whether the Court could adopt a different approach to jurisdiction in S.S. and
Others v. Italy.

First, this thesis investigates the suggestions of legal scholars Trevisanut and
Papastavridis, who propose by reference to the Court’s case law on the right
to life and emergency situations that the receival of a distress call could be
considered to trigger what they call “long distance de facto control” because
of the impact that the SAR coordinating State has over the lives of the persons
in distress. While such a finding would allow the Court to stick to the controlbased
understanding of jurisdiction, this thesis finds that the notion of “long
distance de facto control”, not involving physical control, lacks doctrinal
support.

Second, this thesis explores the propositions of legal scholars Pijnenburg and
Gammeltoft-Hansen and finds that instead of resorting to the control-based
notion of jurisdiction, the Court could resort to the so-called extraterritorial
effects doctrine. Based on the doctrine, the Court could find that the Italian
coordination of the SAR operations conducted from Rome had the effect of
violating the applicants’ human rights outside Italian territory, thereby
triggering art. 1 ECHR. Such a finding would require the Court to rule that
there was a direct and immediate causal link between the coordination and
the alleged violations, but because of the scarce case law on the matter, it is
difficult to foresee whether the present link would suffice. Although the
doctrine has not been applied to the same extent as control-based jurisdiction,
this thesis concludes that the doctrine could apply to SAR coordination over
distance and could prove to be crucial in ensuring that European States
maintain humane standards during SAR operations.},
  author       = {Airaksinen, Nadja},
  keyword      = {folkrätt,jurisdiction,human rights,search and rescue operations,interceptions,mänskliga rättigheter,migration,public international law},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {State Jurisdiction in Search and Rescue Operations - The Extraterritorial Reach of the European Convention on Human Rights and S.S. and Others v. Italy},
  year         = {2020},
}