People who provide humanitarian assistance to refugees should be celebrated not prosecuted
The S&D Group today renewed its call for EU legislation to be changed to ensure that those providing humanitarian assistance to refugees are not criminalised. This call came following a petition to the European Parliament on the matter, which was debated today in the European Parliament.
S&D spokesperson for the Parliament’s petitions committee Soledad Cabezón Ruiz said:
“Individuals who go out of their way – often putting themselves in dangerous situations – to provide humanitarian assistance to those fleeing war and persecution should be celebrated not prosecuted. The petition to the Parliament from NGO PROEMAID (Professional Emergency Aid) raises many important points that we fully support. We have consistently called for the EU law in question to be changed to ensure that it is clear that people providing humanitarian assistance are not to be criminalised.”
S&D MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar who is following the issue in the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee added:
“Within the existing laws, member states should show common sense and not treat people providing help to those in those in need as they treat people smugglers. However, it is outrageous that EU legislation is the basis for this criminalisation in the first place. Our position is very clear. Under no circumstances should someone who provides humanitarian assistance to those in need be treated as a criminal. The directive in question needs to be revised to ensure this.”
Note to editors
The legislation in question is Council directive 2002/90/EC defining the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence. This law is important as it criminalises those engaged in people smuggling. However, we want to see the law revised to ensure that those providing humanitarian assistance are explicitly exempted.
The full text of the petition is here
The legislation in question can be read here