SIU law students research sea rescue of refugees

SIU law students research sea rescue of refugees

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - Southern Illinois University School of Law students have spent the past several months researching legal issues surrounding the sea rescue of refugees trying to migrate to Europe.

Since June, four students, along with Professor Cindy Buys, have been examining international, national and regional maritime and humanitarian laws to piece together a guide that non-governmental organizations, such as German-based Sea-Watch and Human Rights at Sea, can use in assisting in the rescue of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean Sea.

Buys and her students will discuss their pro bono work at the Southern Illinois chapter of the United Nations Association of the U.S.A. annual Human Rights Day Award dinner.

The program begins at 6:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 6, at the Epiphany Lutheran Church located at 1501 W. Chautauqua Road in Carbondale.

Trial attorney James P. Chapman, founder of the Illinois Institute for Community Law and Affairs, will receive the organization's annual Human Rights Day Award.

Laura Alvarado, a third-year law student from Chicago, and Janae Davis, a second-year law student from Atlanta, Georgia, are two of the students involved with the project.

Alvarado researched laws pertaining the "duty to rescue" refugees on the sea, the differing treaties involved and what rescue vessels are obligated to do upon finding another boat in distress.

Alvarado said she has enjoyed learning the numerous and different treaties of each country and how they apply in these situations. Alvarado said laws require people rescued at sea be taken to the nearest place of safety. She said the project has also helped her gain a greater understanding of international laws.

Among the complicating factors are the numerous and often conflicting treaties and laws from the U.N., the European Union, and countries such as Libya and Turkey, which are not part of European Union.

While the refugee migration is primarily from northern Africa, many refugees leave Libya because there is no border control.

Buys was on sabbatical last spring as a visiting professor at Bangor University in Wales and learned of Sea-Watch and its efforts through an attorney who assists the private, non-profit organization.

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