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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

A group of 37 MEPs sign letter calling for the release of humanitarian workers detained in Greece

29 October 2018

Two humanitarian workers, Sean Binder and Sarah Mardini, have been detained in Lesvos since 21 August 2018 on human trafficking charges. When arrested, both were volunteering with Emergency Centre Response International (ERCI), a Greek NGO that runs a search and rescue programme in the waters around the island.

A group of 37 cross-party MEPs, including Jean Lambert, have written an open letter stressing that humanitarian workers should never be treated as criminals. They call on the Greek authorities to take any appropriate action in order to free Sean and Sarah until their trial.

Read the full letter and list of signatories below, or click here for a PDF version.


On 21st August 2018, Greek Police arrested humanitarian workers Mr Séan
Binder and Ms Sarah Mardini on several charges, including that of human
trafficking. They were subsequently taken into Mytilene police station,
questioned, and detained on orders by the Magistrate of Mytilene and remain in
detention since then.

When arrested, both Séan and Sarah were volunteering with Emergency
Response Centre International (ERCI), a Greek non-profit humanitarian
organisation that runs a search and rescue programme in Lesvos, as well as a
medical clinic offering primary care in the Moria refugee camp. The organisation
was well known, was cooperating with the relevant Greek Authorities and had
their authorisation, both on the search and rescue operations as well as inside the
Moria refugee camp.

We, the undersigned Members of the European Parliament, wish not to interfere
in the substance of the judicial proceedings and we have absolute confidence in
integrity and impartiality of the Greek judicial system, as proven with the recent
case of the Spanish coastguards.

However, we strongly believe that humanitarian workers do not pose a threat to
society and should not be treated as criminals. We join our voices to those of their
families, of the Universities where Sarah and Séan are studying, of other
humanitarian NGOs and organisations and of all the people around Europe who
appreciate the efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need or in
distress at sea.

We call, therefore, for any appropriate action to be taken by the relevant Greek
Authorities in order to free Séan and Sarah until their trial. To this end, we would
urge the relevant authorities of the UNHCR in Greece to contribute by providing
to the Greek Justice all the necessary elements for them to properly conduct their


Guy Verhofstadt (Chair of the ALDE group)
Ska Keller (Co-Chair of the GREENS/EFA group)
Gabi Zimmer (Chair of the GUE/NGL group)
Claude Moraes (Chair of the LIBE Committee)
Birgit Sippel (Coordinator for the S&D group in LIBE Committee)
Cornelia Ernst (Coordinator for the GUE/NGL group in LIBE Committee)
Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL)
Malin Björk (GUE/NGL)
Lynn Boylan (GUE/NGL)
Klaus Buchner (GREENS/EFA)
Matt Carthy (GUE/NGL)
Tanja Fajon (Vice-Chair of the S&D group)
Ana Gomes (S&D)
Sophie In’t Veld (Vice-Chair of the ALDE group)
Barbara Lochbihler (GREENS/EFA)
Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D)
Sabine Lösing (GUE/NGL)
Martina Michels (GUE/NGL)
Stelios Kouloglou (GUE/NGL)
Merja Kyllönen (GUE/NGL)
Liadh NiRiada (GUE/NGL)
Dimitrios Papadimoulis (GUE/NGL, EP Vice President)
Morten Helveg Petersen (ALDE)
Maria Heubuch (GREENS/EFA)
Christine Revault d’Allonnes-Bonnefoy (S&D)
Jens Rohde (ALDE)
Martin Schirdewan (GUE/NGL)
Elly Schlein (S&D)
Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL)
Lidia Senra Rodríguez (GUE/NGL)
Barbara Spinelli (GUE/NGL)
Bart Staes (GREENS/EFA)
Miguel Urban Crespo (GUE/NGL)
Ernest Urtasun (GREENS/EFA)
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL)
Julie Ward (S&D)