Rome: The Council of Ministers of Italy on Thursday approved a jail term of up to 30 years for people smugglers, following a deadly shipwreck off the southern Italian coast that claimed the lives of 72 people, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said.
On February 26, a boat with some 180 migrants aboard, including citizens of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria, wrecked a few dozen miles off the Mediterranean port city of Crotone in the Calabria region. According to Italy’s authorities, 72 people have died in the shipwreck, including 28 minors, and only 80 have been rescued.
“The main point of the decree that was just approved deals with the crime of human trafficking and provides for tougher penalties for the trafficking of migrants. It introduces a new crime for those who provoke a death or serious bodily injury in the course of human trafficking, providing for a penalty of up to 30 years in prison,” Meloni told a press conference in the town of Cutro close to the site of the wreck. The press conference was aired on Italy’s broadcasters.
The prime minister added that “the signal that there is no point in entering Italy illegally, paying smugglers and risking your life” is another way to fight human trafficking.
Meloni said that Italy alone is not able to cope with the acute migration problem and expressed hope that the next meeting of the European Council would make specific decisions on the issue.