European activists fight back against ‘criminalisation’ of aid for migrants and refugees

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Thursday, June 20, 2019
European activists fight back against ‘criminalisation’ of aid for migrants and refugees

Author: Eric Reidy | thenewhumanitarian.org | 20 June 2019

More and more people are being arrested across Europe for helping migrants and refugees. Now, civil society groups are fighting back against the 17-year-old EU policy they say lies at the root of what activists and NGOs have dubbed the “criminalisation of solidarity”.

The 2002 policy directive and framework, known as the the “Facilitators’ Package”, establishes the parameters of European policy when it comes to tackling illegal immigration.

The package leaves it up to individual member states to decide whether people providing humanitarian assistance should be exempt from prosecution for helping undocumented migrants enter or cross through EU states. It does not include a requirement that profit be a motive for a charge of human smuggling, nor is there an automatic exemption for humanitarians.

Activists say the policy is too vague, and gives states too wide a berth to bring charges against NGOs performing search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean, volunteers in Greece and elsewhere, and people who have provided transportation, food, and shelter to asylum seekers.

“People [are] being prosecuted just for sort of simple acts of decency,” Liz Fekete, director of the Institute of Race Relations in Britain, which has monitored the arrests, told The New Humanitarian. Read more>>>