legalcentre.org | 3 May 2023
On 08 May 2023, after almost 3 years of waiting, the smuggling trial of A.B. is scheduled to take place in Mytilene/ Lesvos
JOINT STATEMENT BY LEGAL CENTRE LESVOS, BORDERLINE-EUROPE, CAN’T EVICT SOLIDARITY AND AEGEAN MIGRANT SOLIDARITY
A.B., an Iraqi national who arrived to Lesvos, Greece in March 2020, is being tried under Greece’s harsh anti-smuggling law, under which migrant ‘boat drivers’ are prosecuted for smuggling and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences simply for having steered the boat across a border. Migrants are targeted under this law even though many are forced to steer the boat after the actual smugglers abandon them at sea after the migrant boat departs Turkey, and even though those accused have not received any material benefit for ‘facilitating’ the crossing of a border. Since 2015, with the increased arrivals of boats coming from Turkey to Greece, thousands of people have faced these charges, and people accused or convicted of human smuggling now make up the second largest prison population in Greece. The prosecution of A.B. is unfortunately not unique, as the targeting of migrants as smugglers has become a part of migration management in Greece, and throughout Europe.
This is particularly evident in A.B.’s case. In his case, there is video evidence showing that he did not even steer the boat, yet three years after his arrival to Lesvos, he still faces these charges. Meanwhile his asylum case has been suspended and his life in Europe is on hold. We hope that A.B. will have his day in court on 8 May 2023, where the only logical outcome will be his acquittal, and A.B. can finally put this unjust prosecution and years of uncertainty behind him.