Following the recent events concerning the NGO Proactiva Open Arms dedicated to the search and rescue of migrants in the Mediterranean sea, S&D Group vice-presidents Elena Valenciano (foreign affairs) and Tanja Fajon (migration) as well as S&D Euro MP and chair of the European Parliament’s subcommittee on human rights, Antonio Panzeri, stated:

“We are extremely concerned about the preventive seizure of the Proactiva Open Arms’ vessel in Sicily and even more so about the charges of suspected criminal association for illegal immigration presented by Catania prosecutor against this NGO.

“Since its creation in 2015, Proactiva Open Arms has rescued more than 54.000 people from the sea and today it continues to perform outstanding humanitarian work to aid those most vulnerable. Together with other NGOs they have become the forefront of European solidarity where it was most needed, filling the gap left by states and the international community at large, and always with the same priority: to save the lives of fellow human beings.

“Something is wrong when those who are rescuing people in distress are the ones to be prosecuted and criminalised in Europe. We call for a swift clarification of the case and for the NGO to be able to resume its humanitarian activities. We need to ensure that humanitarian search and rescue operations can be carried out without risk of retaliation or criminalisation. Solidarity cannot be a crime.

“This event shows once again the urgent need for an EU common policy on migration in order to permanently overcome all the political resistance and to, finally, establish a new Dublin Regulation.”