November 18, 2021
“Humanitarians should not be criminalised for saving lives” – Chris MacManus MEP

“Humanitarians should not be criminalised for saving lives” –  Chris MacManus MEP

Sinn Féin MEP said Seán Binder should receive recognition not judgement

Midlands Northwest MEP Chris MacManus has called for urgent action from the government in support of Seán Binder and his colleagues, humanitarian workers who are facing trail in Greece this week. MacManus said that their case was “a clear example of the criminalisation of humanitarian work, which is becoming increasingly common across the EU”. 

Seán Binder, who grew up in Ireland, was arrested in Greece in August 2018, when he was 24, along with fellow volunteer Sarah Mardini (from Syria, aged 23 at the time), and their Greek colleague Nassos Karaktisos. They had been volunteering with Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI), a registered non-profit organisation helping with search-and-rescue operations in Lesbos. They are accused of people smuggling though an organised crime ring, espionage and money laundering, charges which leading human rights organisations have deemed highly dubious.  On many of the occasions he is alleged to have engaged in people smuggling, Seán was not even in Greece. 

Seán and his colleagues spent 100 days in pre-trial detention in 2018, and were then released on bail. Their case is finally coming to court in Greece today the 18th of November. The crimes for which they are accused carry combined penalties of up to 25 years in prison. “

“Seán’s only ‘crime’ was to protect people’s lives”, said MacManus. “This young man went above and beyond what most of us were prepared to do to help refugees suffering on Europe’s borders. We were all moved and outraged when we saw the images of such a needless waste of human life, but Seán actually went out to tackle this injustice head on. He should be receiving recognition and praise for his work; instead, he is facing a judgement that could take away his future.”

“I have written to Minister Coveney to urge him to use all diplomatic means at his disposal to ensure that such an unjust ruling does not come to pass. With full respect for the independence of the Greek judicial system, Ireland should take a clear stance against this exacerbating criminalisation of those who give all that they can to help others.” ENDS

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