Giving humanitarian help to migrants should not be a crime, according to the EP

Refugee Children 2018This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

The EU should ensure that helping migrants for humanitarian reasons is not punishable as a crime, the European Parliament stated on Thursday.

In a non-legislative resolution, MEPs highlight concerns that EU laws on help to irregular migrants are having “unintended consequences” for citizens that provide humanitarian assistance to migrants. The text was passed with by show of hands.

Under the 2002 “Facilitation” directive, EU member states are required to introduce laws listing criminal penalties for anyone who “facilitates” the irregular entry, transit or residence of migrants.

However, the resolution stresses that the EU legislation also gives member states the power to exempt “humanitarian” action from the list of crimes and regrets that few member states have incorporated the “humanitarian assistance” exemption into their national laws.

NGOs helping migrants at sea and on land

MEPs note that humanitarian assistance from individuals and NGOs, offered through rescue operations at sea and on land, “supports and complements life-saving actions undertaken by the competent authorities of EU member states”. MEPs stress that any action must remain within the remit established by the “Facilitation” directive, with their operations taking place under the control of national authorities.

Parliament calls on EU countries to include the “humanitarian assistance” exemption in their legislation, to ensure that individuals and civil society organisations who assist migrants for humanitarian reasons are not prosecuted for doing so.

When is “facilitation” not a crime

Finally, the resolution urges the EU Commission to issue guidelines specifying which forms of “facilitation” should not be criminalised by member states, to make sure that the law is applied with greater clarity and uniformity.


Claude Moraes (S&D, UK), who drafted the resolution on behalf of the Civil Liberties Committee, said: “We need clear guidelines on humanitarian assistance. This is key in a context where individuals and NGOs work very hard to save people at sea and help them on land. During my EP mission to Libya, NGOs have again and again explained that this is essential so that they can carry on with their work”.


The role of humanitarian workers and NGOs is increasingly in the spotlight in the context of a wider political discussion about how to deal with the arrival of migrants and asylum-seekers to the EU, with some accusing them of encouraging human trafficking and of acting outside legal boundaries.

In May, a group of Spanish volunteers was acquitted in Greece of smuggling charges filed when they were helping migrants arriving on Lesvos from Turkey. Two rescue vessels managed by NGOs are currently detained in Malta and the captain of one them has been accused of lacking the necessary ship registration documents to enter Maltese waters.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Conflict, climate change among factors that increase ‘desperation that enables human trafficking to flourish’, says UN chief

How to reimagine our food systems for a post-COVID world

Climate Change : An Already Health Emergency

Working when sick is rising and harms you and your employer. This is why

Everything you need to know about the coronavirus

Can the national and age groups pockets of unemployment cause irreparable damages to Eurozone?

EU to spend €135.5 billion in 2014 or 6.5% less than this year

Parenting in the time of COVID-19? Consider these 6 tips from the WHO

Irish Presidency: Not a euro more for EU budgets

“Fortress Europe”, “Pegida” and its laughing stocks

FROM THE FIELD: ‘Eco-warriors’ fight climate change in South Africa

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: “Am I a real Boy?”

Work to make the world a better place: 5 things you need to know about ‘green jobs’

Iran: BBC and other broadcast journalists harassed; families threatened – UN experts

Why schools should teach the curriculum of the future, not the past

Eurozone: Retail sales and inflation point to recession

UN food agency begins ‘last resort’ partial withdrawal of aid to opposition-held Yemeni capital

The role of employers in the post #MeToo era

Here’s why the business of sustainability has come of age

3 innovations which are leading the fight to save our ocean

Lessons from the Global Entrepreneurship Index

Coronavirus global response: EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to Afghanistan and further support

UN announces roadmap to Climate Summit in 2019, a ‘critical year’ for climate action

Forward Agenda: What can we expect from 2019?

Could Europe become the first climate-neutral continent?

How can we overcome the racial barriers to global health parity?

Gynecologic care in the 21st century

Ghana will grow faster than any other economy this year, the IMF says why

Advice on fighting COVID-19 from the Red Cross, a chemist and academics around the world: Today’s coronavirus updates

More than four in 10 women, live in fear of refusing partner’s sexual demands, new UN global study finds

These are the world’s most positive countries

Thinking throughout HIV: changing a perspective

China is sending science students to live with rural farmers – and crop yields are skyrocketing

4 views on the shape of global cooperation in the time of COVID-19

Medical ethics in the age of the social media influencers

COP21 Breaking News_04 December: Launch of CREWS, climate risk & early warning systems

Better sanitation for India is in the pipeline

3 ways digitalization will help end crime

From landlocked to land-linked: how the UN is helping some of the world’s poorest countries

The post-pandemic future of work – according to 3,000 CEOs from around the world

Importance of teaching ethics in Brazilian Medical Schools

Commission reaches agreement with collaborative economy platforms to publish key data on tourism accommodation

UN Environment Assembly 2017: where the world convenes to #BeatPollution

I went blind at age 5, but managed to stay in education. We must ensure 93 million children with disabilities get the same chance

Business uncertainty rises as US grants only temporary exception to EU for steel and aluminium tariffs

Here’s how business needs to change for a new decade

3 reasons why most Africans aren’t on the internet – and how to connect them

To build back better, we must reinvent capitalism. Here’s how

What did we learn from COP25?

Why a healthy planet and a healthy economy go hand-in-hand

Colombia is a Latin American success story, but must pursue new reforms to achieve stronger and more inclusive growth

Food supply chain: A step closer to ending unfair trading

Only international actions can settle the world’s ‘enormous and diverse cross-border challenges’, Qatar tells UN Assembly

Energy: EU funding for priority projects should reflect 2050 climate objectives

Charlotte in Ghana

Ukraine-EU deal sees the light but there’s no defeat for Russia

Mental health problems costing Europe heavily

The new ethical dilemmas in medicine of the 21st century

As Libya talks resume in Geneva, UN negotiator seeks to overcome sticking points

Why sustainable products are a win-win for all of us

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s