The key academic heading up a Mirpuri Foundation-backed legal research project has presented his early findings to a prestigious legal conference in England. Associate Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Jean-Pierre Gauci, was invited to address the 110th Annual Conference of the Society of Legal Scholars, on ‘Central Questions about Law,’ at the University of Central Lancashire, in Preston, England.

The project was originally initiated to mark International Migrants Day, last year, as a response to the ever-growing numbers of would-be asylum seekers and migrants forced to embark upon perilous sea crossings in flight from violence, persecution or war, while private boats and NGO ships increasingly found themselves called upon to assist in related crisis at sea, with little idea of what their legal responsibilities were. 

As a result, the Mirpuri Foundation decided to link-up with the prestigious British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), to offer financial support for Dr. Gauci’s Institute study of the responsibilities of, and the implications for, private and commercial vessels involved in the search and rescue of migrants and refugees at sea.

Now the doctor has joined an outstanding list of eminent legal figures and other highly distinguished speakers from a range of university law schools to share his findings with the Society of Legal Scholars (SLS).

The SLS is a learned society for those who teach law in a university or similar institution or who are otherwise engaged in legal scholarship. It is the oldest and largest learned society in the field of law and is the principal representative body for legal academics in the UK as well as one of the larger learned societies in arts, humanities and social sciences.

Dr. Gauci’s presentation: ‘The Role of Private Vessels in the Maritime Search and Rescue of Migrants at Sea,’ said the issue of migrant and refugees taking to the seas had been described as ‘unprecedented in modern times,’ by Koji Sekimizu the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization.

The presentation outlined key routes used by traffickers and discussed the numbers of people putting to sea from different countries, before discussing the problems of search and rescue, the international legislation used to govern rescue efforts, and how private and commercial vessels involved in the search and rescue of migrants and refugees at sea were increasingly facing difficulties as they attempt to dispatch their responsibilities at sea.

Speaking on Dr. Gauci’s conference appearance, Mirpuri Foundation President Paulo Mirpuri, said:

“The project was designed to examine a range of important issues, such as the possible legal consequences of becoming involved in migrant rescues, delays in the disembarkation of rescued peoples, and the difficult human rights issues that can arise for all involved.

At the Mirpuri Foundation, we believe that every human life is of equal importance and that is why we were keen to fund this project.

The Mirpuri Foundation hopes that completion of the BIICL project will assist in the development of guidelines and training for seafarers around the world.”