The Seizure of the Iuventa

Heller, Charles and Pezzani, Lorenzo. 2018. The Seizure of the Iuventa. n/a. [Other]

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Abstract or Description

On 2 August 2017, the ship Iuventa was seized by the Italian judiciary. Its operators, members of the German NGO Jugend Rettet (‘Youth Rescue’), were accused of colluding with smugglers and ‘assistance with illegal migration’. The charges related to three different rescue operations: the first on the 10 September 2016, the second and third on 18 June 2017.

The accusations came only days after Jugend Rettet, along with several other rescue NGOs, had refused to sign a ‘code of conduct’ that would have substantially limited their activities.

Forensic Architecture (FA) and Forensic Oceanography (FO) worked together to examine the accounts of those events presented by Italian authorities.

Our analysis suggests that the Iuventa crew did not return empty boats to smugglers, as they were accused of having done. Nor do they appear to communicate with anyone potentially connected with smuggling networks, as the Italian authorities suggested they had.

The seizure of the Iuventa is emblematic of a new attempt by European authorities to stem the flow of migration across the Mediterranean, following the failure of the policies initially deployed in 2011 following the Arab Spring, when the number of attempted crossings from North Africa began to increase substantially.

From 2016, the Italian government, in collaboration with other European governments and EU agencies, has deployed a two-pronged strategy to close off the central Mediterranean. On one hand, authorities attempt to delegitimise and criminalise rescue NGOs, aiming to prevent them from operating in the central Mediterranean. On the other, those authorities provide material, technical and political support to Libya’s coastguard, encouraging and enabling them to more effectively intercept and ‘pull back’ migrants to the Libyan coast.

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Additional Information:

Forensic Oceanography Team

Principal Investigators
Charles Heller
Lorenzo Pezzani

Forensic Architecture Team

Project Coordinator
Nathan Su

Grace Quah

Research Support
Eyal Weizman

Project Support
Christina Varvia
Sarah Nankivell

Extended Team

Richard Limeburner

GIS Analysis
Rossana Padeletti

Borderline Europe
Jugend Rettet e.V.
WatchTheMed Platform

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures > Centre for Research Architecture



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Date Deposited:

13 Jan 2022 11:42

Last Modified:

13 Jan 2022 11:42


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