The PACE Standing Committee, meeting today by videoconference, strongly condemned attacks on NGOs and their donors assisting refugees and migrants, stressing that such attacks could take the form of “physical violence, legal obstacles, judicial, administrative or fiscal harassment, smear campaigns, political accusations or even racist acts”. “Without the efforts of these NGOs, member States would not be able to meet their commitments regarding refugees and migrants and their humanitarian needs,” the parliamentarians said.
In a resolution adopted on the basis of the report by Domagoj Hajduković (Croatia, SOC), the Standing Committee called on member states not to discriminate against foreign NGOs providing humanitarian assistance to refugees and migrants on their territory, nor to restrict foreign funding of humanitarian work by domestic NGOs. In this regard, humanitarian donations and action should not be taxed by national fiscal authorities.
On their side, underlines the adopted text, NGOs must comply with requirements, such as “respect for national laws and transparency”. “They should be incorporated and ensure clarity about their objectives, staff, funding, use of financial resources and action,” the parliamentarians said.
The Standing Committee added that NGOs should be allowed to carry out search and rescue operations in international waters and disembark those rescued at the nearest safe port, in accordance with international maritime law.
Finally, it recommended that the Committee of Ministers prepare common standards to facilitate the international work of NGOs providing humanitarian assistance for migrants and refugees.