The Italian government has adopted a new migration and security decree that could see migrant transport NGOs fined up to one million euros for bringing migrants to the country.
The new legislation, named the ‘Security Bis Decree’, was passed in the Italian Senate by a vote of 160 votes to 57 this week and is seen as a victory for populist Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, Italian newspaper Il Giornale reports.

The result of the vote was welcomed by Mr Salvini who commented: “The Security Bis Decree — granting more powers to law enforcement agencies, more border controls, more men to arrest the Mafiosi and Camorristi crime syndicates — is a law. I thank you, the Italians, and the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Among the new changes within the decree is a massive increase in the amount the government can fine migrant transport NGOs entering Italian territorial waters without authorisation.

Formerly, the fines were set at 50,000 euros but have been changed to one million euros per violation and the decree also allows for the arrest of captains who ignore orders to stay out of Italian waters as well as giving authorities leeway to confiscate their vessels.

While Salvini and his anti-mass migration policies have kept the number of incoming migrants low, several NGOs have begun to operate off the coast of Libya once more including Doctors Without Borders (MSF) which recently launched a new ship in the area.

The NGO announced that they have, over the last three years, been able to raise 3.5 million euros toward their migrant transport operations, some of which may be used to pay fines imposed by the Italian government.

“This availability is also an insurance to deal with the possible risks and obstacles to our activities at sea that could have financial consequences,” the group said.

Other NGOs operating in the area have been more cautious of attempting to land in Italy since the arrest of Sea Watch captain Carola Rackete in June.

Last week, NGO Sea-Eye announced it would not attempt to land in Italy but would take migrants they had picked up to Malta instead.

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