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: