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NGO members working on search and rescue operations at sea accused of helping refugees

Written declaration No. 678 | Doc. 14923 | 26 June 2019

Mr Duarte MARQUES, Portugal, EPP/CD ; Mr Jason AZZOPARDI, Malta, EPP/CD ; Ms Petra BAYR, Austria, SOC ; Ms Rósa Björk BRYNJÓLFSDÓTTIR, Iceland, UEL ; Mr José CEPEDA, Spain, SOC ; Mr Telmo CORREIA, Portugal, EPP/CD ; Lord Alexander DUNDEE, United Kingdom, EC ; Mr Petter EIDE, Norway, UEL ; Ms Edite ESTRELA, Portugal, SOC ; Mr Piero FASSINO, Italy, SOC ; Mr António FILIPE, Portugal, UEL ; Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ, Switzerland, SOC ; Mr Paul GAVAN, Ireland, UEL ; Ms Iryna GERASHCHENKO, Ukraine, EPP/CD ; Mr Carlos Alberto GONÇALVES, Portugal, EPP/CD ; Ms Miren GORROTXATEGUI, Spain, UEL ; Ms Zita GURMAI, Hungary, SOC ; Mr Antonio GUTIÉRREZ, Spain, SOC ; Mr Frank HEINRICH, Germany, EPP/CD ; Mr Andrej HUNKO, Germany, UEL ; Mr Viktor IELENSKYI, Ukraine, EPP/CD ; Mr Giorgi KANDELAKI, Georgia, EPP/CD ; Ms Elvira KOVÁCS, Serbia, EPP/CD ; Ms Stella KYRIAKIDES, Cyprus, EPP/CD ; Mr Luís LEITE RAMOS, Portugal, EPP/CD ; Mr Pere LÓPEZ, Andorra, SOC ; Mr Matern von MARSCHALL, Germany, EPP/CD ; Baroness Doreen MASSEY, United Kingdom, SOC ; Ms Ana Catarina MENDES, Portugal, SOC ; Mr Carmelo MIFSUD BONNICI, Malta, EPP/CD ; Mr Killion MUNYAMA, Poland, EPP/CD ; Mr Andreas NICK, Germany, EPP/CD ; Mr Henk OVERBEEK, Netherlands, UEL ; Mr Paulo PISCO, Portugal, SOC ; Ms Agnieszka POMASKA, Poland, EPP/CD ; Mr Roberto RAMPI, Italy, SOC ; Mr Josef RIEF, Germany, EPP/CD ; Lord Simon RUSSELL, United Kingdom, EC ; Ms Ulla SANDBÆK, Denmark, UEL ; Mr Jussi SARAMO, Finland, UEL ; Mr Stefan SCHENNACH, Austria, SOC ; Mr Adão SILVA, Portugal, EPP/CD ; Mr Serhiy SOBOLEV, Ukraine, EPP/CD ; Mr Gheorghe-Dinu SOCOTAR, Romania, SOC ; Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE, Romania, EPP/CD ; Ms Petra De SUTTER, Belgium, SOC ; Ms Feleknas UCA, Turkey, UEL ; Mr Leonid YEMETS, Ukraine, EPP/CD ; Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS, Lithuania, EPP/CD

We, the undersigned, declare the following:

Dozens of young Europeans and NGOs committed to help saving lives in the sea are now being charged with aiding illegal immigration and risk prison sentences for up to 20 years.

They acted in coordination with military vessels from several European countries involved in search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. At all times, migrants rescued were turned in to the authorities.

The Parliamentary Assembly reminds that the duty to render assistance to persons or vessels in distress at sea is an obligation that binds both States and shipmasters of all types of vessels, including NGO vessels, according inter alia to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, in her recommendation “Lives saved. Rights Protected. Bridging the protection gap for refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean” and the report of the Assembly “A comprehensive humanitarian and political response to the migration and refugee crisis in Europe”, support this work of NGOs.

The criminalisation of persons acting for humanitarian reasons in situations where migrants’ lives are in danger is not in compliance with international law; it is contrary to the principle of solidarity and humanitarian aid and a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.