The European Union Wants to Criminalize Volunteers Who Help Refugees on Greek Islands


Statewatch, a European civil liberties watchdog, has released confidential documents that reveal that the European Union is drawing up plans to criminalize charities and volunteers who help refugees arriving on Greek islands.

It is yet another desperate attempt by European leaders who have tried— and failed— to create and implement a comprehensive and unified plan amongst its fractious members to handle almost 1 million refugees who have arrived over the past year.

The documents revealed that EU interior ministers who met in Amsterdam on January 27, 2016 want to criminalize as “smugglers” charities, local people, volunteers and scores of international humanitarians who have traveled to Greece to help pull drowning refugees from the sea and feed and offer dry clothes as they land on Greek islands.

Instead, the Council wants to create a state-run mechanism that forces people to register and work under EU-sanctioned rescue and relief plans.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, stated that “The (European) Council proposals would criminalise NGOs, local people and volunteers who have worked heroically to welcome refugees when the EU institutions did nothing, while other plans would incorporate those who “register” with the police to work under state structures. In a humane and caring EU it should not be necessary to “register” to offer help and care to people who have suffered so much already.”

The story was first broken by The Times in London and all corresponding documents, including the leaked European Commission report, have been placed on Statewatch’s website. Statewatch’s full report is here.

Eric Kempson, a British exat who’s been living on Lesvos for years and has helped, together with his wife and daughter, thousands of refugees who are landing just feet from his home, responded angrily to the news.

“If we were helping during the holocaust then we would be classed as the resistance and the EU would be the Nazis. They are following the logic of fascism by telling us to let people drown on our doorstep and the way Greece is being victimized in all this is disgusting. We are not going to stop helping. We will keep on going and we need the world’s help to do it. They are not going to stop us acting with humanity,” Kempson said via his Facebook page.

A petition has already been started by an activist in London criticizing the proposed move by the European Council and encouraging European leaders to scrap the plans to criminalize volunteer work on Greece’s islands.



  1. Agath Mantanes on

    So let me get this straight the morons in the EU would rather let people drown and die instead of giving them help. The world has gone nuts for sure.

    • No you didn’t get it straight or even half way right. Did you even read this article? It wants ALL helpers to be registered and singing off the same hymn sheet so people can be properly processed and assessed. Not everyone coming in are legitimate asylum seekers and everyone needs to be correctly assessed and handled in the prescribed manner. No matter how much you wish it, borders are there for a reason.

  2. Jakob Andersen on

    I have read the Draft Council conclusion on Migrant Smuggling that is linket to in this article. And I can not find any place where it says the NGOs will be criminalised or need to register not to be criminalised. What I can see is that the EU states that the migrant smuggling can only be counteracted through including (amongst others) NGOs.
    Am I missing the point? I agree that EU is sound asleep and should speed up its actions but from the documents it sems as if Bruxelles is urging its member states to act on a National level to intenisfy the actions to counteract smuggling and trafficiking.

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  4. Maybe they should get their noses out of each others a***** and see the reality of the situation.

    Another example of the the so called “ruling classes” having no idea of reality…..

  5. jonathan Smith on

    So , I give in , its a fair cop. I confess that I have freely given up my time in order to help the refugees that arrived in Kos . I confess to giving dry clothes to people who had 10 minutes earlier been in the sea. I confess that I am an evil criminal for finding shoes and socks for a toddler, scarves for women that traditionally cover their hair. A warm jacket to an Afghani ( but hes not a refugee, because its the Taliban that want him dead , not Isil )

    The people on the Greek islands have been doing this for a year. Where is the EU ? We were resuing 6000 a week at a time that the EU couldnt agree on 40,000 , reduced it to 32,000 and then imploded , put up razor wire fences round the country . Countries closing borders with a tsunami of people walking, yes walking frm Athens to Berlin.
    The Nobel prize should go to the people collectively . I hope the UK leave the EU next year . They have decimated the Greek pensions to the point that they will starve. Germany has a history where that is concerned.
    There is no enforcement of international law in Turkey . The traffickers are charching $1500-2000 per person.
    roughly speaking these criminals have made $ this year. This money has all got to be laundered.
    Thousands of people are going to the coastal villages in Turkey and nobdy sees them go and no one is chasing the money. The only way this can occur is by corruption of the poilice, coastguard and local polititians . How high up the foodchain the money goes is anyones guess , but its a shedload of dollars.
    About 100 people, mostly children drowned this week ! Where is all the money going ? If you read this and know a forencic accountant tell them . I should think the Turkish government would reward anyone that found them the proceeds handsomely.

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  7. Let’s not jump into our own conclusions without facts as some other comments expressed above. Headlines sell. Let’s not become victims of the media. Yes, controlling somewhat the volunteers and the newcomers is a good idea.

  8. ethan davidson on

    Normally I advocate that travelers try to follow the laws of the lands they are in. But this is absurd. If the situation is as the article states, it is very much like situations in the USA have been arrested for serving food to the hungry and homeless. Like many of those people, I advocate that volenteers keep helping refugees, as an act of civil disobedeince, enduring arrests if their situation enables them to do so. Doing it openly or on the sly, depending on their inclinations and the situation on the ground. If the jails are full of charity workers, including, hopefully, priests, monsk, and nuns, the EU may become so emaressed as to drop this horrible policy.

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  10. The EU are part of the same Nazi / Zionist / fascist dictatorship as murica & ISISrael. The only way to stop this mess is to GET OUT of Syria & stop bombing them. It’s all about oil & gas. It’s all evil / greed. The west have NO business in Syria. The West created this mess. It is no wonder some of the male immigrants arriving in Europe are committing crime: they are on a Jihad. It’s payback time. The poor souls who are victims of their crimes are just collateral damage to our politicians. Most of our western politicians should be in prison now. They care not for the citizens they supposedly serve. That’s the whole point – they’re not civil servants – they are thieves. They are criminals.

  11. I just returned to England from 2 weeks in Lesvos helping refugees at risk of hypothermia get dry clothes when they arrive by boat, This poem I wrote explains why.
    That woman,
    the one climbing out of the sinking boat
    the one with blue lips in a light summer coat
    the one whose life jacket does not even float.
    That woman could be me.

    That man,
    the one with holes in his worn out shoes
    the one who has nothing left to lose
    the one you saw on the six o’clock news.
    That man could be you.

    That elder,
    the one so weak she can barely stand
    the one clutching grandchildren in each hand
    the one uprooted from her ancestral land.
    That elder could be my mother.

    That little girl,
    the one too dazed to take sweets or fruit
    the one not crying, the one who’s mute
    the one the Taliban didn’t shoot.
    That girl could be your daughter.

    That toddler,
    the one who arrived sick and damp
    the one who was crying and suffering from cramp
    the one playing happily in the refugee camp.
    That boy could be our grandson.

    That fisherman,
    the one overwhelmed by the thousands who flee
    the one fishing bodies out of the sea
    the one abandoned by the powers that be.
    That man could be our brother.

    Those people,
    the ones selling life jackets – useless and fake
    the ones smuggling people in boats at daybreak
    the ones who are desperate for money to make.
    Those people could be us.

    Those people,
    the ones on the shore offering sweet cups of chai
    the ones handing out clean clothes that are dry
    the ones who can’t bear just to stand by.
    Those people could be us.
    Those people are us.
    We are those people.

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  13. je trouve cela inamisble de fouloir sauver des gens de la noyades et de les condaner si il y avez pas de guerre chez eux ils ne serez pas obligez de partir et je trouve cela inacceptable votre loi que vous voulez faire toute vie est précieuse

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