Once again, Belgium will send the frigate Louise-Marie to the Mediterranean Sea in June. This mission is part of the fight against human trafficking.
The Minister for Defence, Steven Vandeput (New Flemish Alliance) has indicated on his website that he has an agreement in principle with Italy, so that traffickers can be prosecuted within the Italian jurisdiction.
The minister explained, “To put an end to human trafficking, it is vital to prosecute the traffickers themselves. Belgium has no legal framework to prosecute offences committed on the high seas. Moreover, the authority for Operation Sophia remains limited in scope to the high seas.”
Mr Vandeput says that a solution has been found for this issue.
The Minister for Defence met with his counterpart, Roberta Pinotti, yesterday (Tuesday), so as to define a suitable legal framework to “intercept human traffickers and be able to prosecute them within Italy.”
When questioned on VRT Radio, Steven Vandeput explained that the intention was to send representatives of the Italian authorities on the Belgian vessel. The minister said that, as a country bordering the Mediterranean, Italy will be able to take “all necessary legal actions” on Belgium’s behalf.
The legal framework to ensure that this is possible should be ready for the mission departure date of the Louise-Marie frigate – this coming June 12th.