Since our governments are struggling to handle migration, we – European citizens, students, volunteers, families, unions and communities of faith from all walks of life – have stepped in to help. But our right to help is being criminalised as thousands of Europeans have been fined or arrested for simply offering humanitarian assistance to people fleeing persecution. This is not the Europe that we want. Together we can reclaim those acts for what they are: reflecting our European and human values of community, compassion and kindness.
This is why we have joined forces to launch the first European Citizens’ Initiative to empower a #WelcomingEurope and reclaim our right to help.
A European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) is the most visible and legally binding tool for direct democracy in Europe. If 1 million European citizens from at least seven member states sign the petition within a year, the European Commission will be obliged to hear the demands of the citizens in a formal procedure.
Through this direct democracy tool, we can compel the European Commission and Parliament to respond to our demands.
Ask the European Commission to:
- Ban the criminalisation of solidarity in member states
- Support European citizens who want to offer safety to people fleeing persecution
- Guarantee effective access to justice to all victims of exploitation and abuse
Why is this important?
Offer solidarity to those in need
Did you know you can get punished or fined for helping someone in need? Distributing food, giving a lift, buying a train ticket or rescuing a family from drowning can be enough to get fined or arrested in half of the EU member states. People are being called ‘traffickers’ for offering to help. This is allowed because EU law does not clarify the difference between trafficking, smuggling and humanitarian assistance. Since the European Commission refused to act and revise the law, European citizens will.
Offer safety to people fleeing persecution
Many of us are willing to welcome and provide safety to those in need whenever we are given the chance. As European citizens, we are ashamed that those fleeing persecution must risk their lives to be safe on our shores. EU citizens want to save lives and provide legal and safe ways for those fleeing persecution – and they should be able to do so! Through community sponsorship programmes, EU citizens can act as sponsors so that those in need can arrive to Europe safely and become quickly and easily integrated in communities. While community sponsorship already proved to be successful in many European countries, the EU does not have a budget line for it (yet).
Offer justice to victims of exploitation and abuses
We want systems that protect all people. But most non-EU citizens who are targets of trafficking, crimes or human rights abuses do not get justice or file complaints because they fear they will be deported by the authorities. But this would not be the case if the complaints mechanisms under EU law were effective. We call the European Commission to listen to its citizens who want a working justice system for all and guarantee more effective ways and rules to defend victims of exploitation and human rights abuses.
Take action now: sign our Citizens’ Initiative to reclaim a #WelcomingEurope.
For more information: https://www.weareawelcomingeurope.eu