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Italy to fine migrant rescue boats without OK to enter ports

Italian Deputy Premier and Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, speaks during a press conference following a Cabinet meeting at Chigi Palace premier's office in Rome, Tuesday, June 11, 2019. (Maurizio Brambatti/ANSA via AP)

ROME (AP) — Italy’s populist government has approved stiff fines for migrant rescue boats that defy orders to stay out of Italian waters.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said Tuesday after a Cabinet meeting that a new decree allows fines of up to 50,000 euros ($57,000) when charity boats carrying migrants who were rescued at sea enter Italy’s ports without authorization.

The regulation also permits undercover police investigations of possible migrant trafficking operations and facilitates electronic eavesdropping on suspected people smugglers.

Since becoming interior minister a year ago, the right-wing Salvini has further toughened Italy’s oversight of rescue boats operated by private aid groups.

The number of smuggler vessels embarking from Libya and the corresponding number of migrant arrivals have dwindled.

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