No one providing humanitarian assistance should be criminalised anywhere in Europe

humanitarian assistance

People providing humanitarian assistance to those in need should not be criminalised anywhere in Europe. That was the message of a resolution backed today by MEPs in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

S&D Group spokesperson for the resolution, Claude Moraes MEP, said:

“We are seeing a worrying trend across Europe of new legislation designed to criminalise humanitarian workers and volunteers that help migrants and refugees. For example, the proposed ‘Stop Soros’ legislation in Hungary would mean that those acting to uphold Hungary’s basic human rights’ obligations could be thrown in jail. People who attempt to help vulnerable people are being treated as if they were human traffickers. Laws like these are an attack on the basic tenants of our democracy and have no place in the European Union. Today, we are calling on the European Commission to come forward with guidelines for member states to prevent humanitarian assistance from being criminalised.”

S&D Group spokesperson for civil liberties, justice and home affairs, Birgit Sippel MEP, said:

“Volunteers and humanitarian workers helping asylum seekers and other vulnerable people should be celebrated, not prosecuted. This debate and resolution comes at an urgent moment; as well as the new laws in Hungary we are seeing Italy closing its ports to NGO boats carrying out vital search and rescue operations. We have EU legislation designed to crack down on people that facilitate irregular entry or residence. However, there is a clear exemption for when that assistance is humanitarian in nature. Despite this, only a quarter of EU member states have adopted this exemption clause in their national legislation.  We urge the Commission to act and put pressure on member states to uphold their human obligations.”