Help is no crime: stand with volunteers against the criminalisation of solidarity

07 September 2018

Related: Greece

Brussels, 7 September 2018 – The arrest of Sarah Mardini and Seán Binder is the latest case of a worrying trend towards the criminalisation of solidarity in Europe. The two volunteers were arrested by the Greek authorities on 21 August for helping refugees and migrants arriving by sea on Lesbos island. With this joint letter, European civil society organisations call on the Greek authorities to release Sarah and Sean while their trial is pending.

Sarah Mardini and Seán Binder – who are accused of smuggling by Greek Authorities – are currently in pre-trial detention. Sarah became known when she and her sister  pulled a boat to safety and saved a dozen refugees in 2015. Like many individuals and organisations providing support and first aid to migrants and refugees across Europe, the two volunteers could face jail time.

European civil society actors have continuously opposed the intimidation and punishment of volunteers and non-governmental organisations. State practices that criminalise EU citizens for their solidarity with migrants and refugees are intolerable and risk our fundamental European values of justice and human rights.

Charges against Sarah and Seán occur in a broader context of a pan-European trend towards criminalising solidarity. As part of the #WelcomingEurope European Citizens’ Initiative, hundreds of civil society organisations and thousands of European citizens are fighting back against these restrictive policies that have created a hostile environment for people who help refugees and migrants.

Through this official EU tool, 1 million signatures from European citizens have the power to get the European Commission to comply with our joint-demand: end the criminalisation of solidarity acts across Europe.

Join the call to #FreeSarahAndSean

Tell EU leaders that helping people in need is no crime by signing the petition:

Follow and share: #HelpIsNoCrime #FreeSarahAndSean


1.    Migration Policy Group

2.    Picum

3.    VolontEurope

4.    JRS Europe

5.    Emmaüs Europe

6.    AEDH

7.    Sick of waiting

8.    CCME

9.    Migrant Voice

10.  International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe

11.  Refugees Welcome Denmark

12.  Maisha e.V. African Women in Germany

13.  Association for Integration and Migration

14.  Federación SOS Racismo

15.  Center for Legal Aid – Voice in Bulgaria

16.  FLEX

17.  La Strada International

18.  Consortium of Migrants Assisting Organizations

19.  Health Centre for Undocumented Migrants

20.  Medinetz Mainz e.V.

21.  Verenigde Protestantse Kerk in België – Eglise Protestante Unie de Belgique

22.  Jugendliche ohne Grenzen – Youth without borders

23.  Rosengrenska

24.  LEGIS Volunteers

25.  Medibüro Kiel e.V

26.  Secours Catholique

27.  Parents International

28.  Borderline-Europe

29.  Afrique Culture Maroc

30.  Stichting LOS

31.  SB OverSeas

32.  The Salvation Army Europe

33.  ForumFer

34.  Menedek

35.  J&P

36.  SOS Racism

37.  ASTI

38.  Greek Council for Refugees

39.  Mundo en Movimiento

40.  SolidarityNow

41.  HIAS

42.  Human rights league

43.  La Cimade

44.  Oxfam Belgium

45.  Passerell

46.  Liga voor de Rechten van de Mens – Dutch League for Human Rights

47.  CNCD

48.  Positive Action

49.  European Network of Migrant Women

50.  New Europeans

51.  Hellenic League for human rights

52.  LIDU- Lega italiana dei Diritti dell’Uomo

53.  Oxfam Germany

54.  Welcoming Europe: Per un’Europa che accoglie

55.  Réseau Education Sans Frontières

56.  Ligue des droits de l’Homme

57.  League for Human Rights – Civitas

58.  ENAR

59.  JRS Greece

60.  The Greek Forum of Refugees