GENEVA, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- A new code of conduct to be imposed on organizations rescuing migrants and refugees from the Mediterranean Sea could restrict their life-saving work and result in more deaths, a UN expert warned on Tuesday.
The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, said that in any such action plan, Italy and other EU Member States must uphold their international human rights obligations to protect the right to life of every individual, including refugees and migrants, without discrimination.
"Through this new code of conduct, Italy and the European Commission are imposing procedures that could reduce the ability of NGOs to carry out life-saving activities," the UN expert said.
"This could lead to more deaths at sea, and the resulting loss of lives, being foreseeable and preventable, would constitute a violation of Italy's human rights obligations," she added.
The code of conduct, drawn up by Italy with the support of the European Commission, is part of a new action plan designed to support Italy, reduce the pressure of migrant arrivals, and "increase solidarity".
According to Callamard, this code of conduct and the overall action plan suggest that Italy, the European Commission and EU Member States deem the risks and reality of deaths at sea "a price worth paying in order to deter migrants and refugees".
"No matter how much the support of the European Commission or others is needed, it must not lead to further abuses of migrants and refugees," she said, adding that this would be the direct opposite of the right to life, and the antithesis of search and rescue.