Acting in solidarity with migrants in the EU has been difficult for decades. Nearly twenty years ago, three volumes of PICUM’s Book of Solidarity highlighted “the alarming tendency to criminalise assistance to undocumented migrants”. Between 2015 and 2019, research shows that at least 171 individuals were criminalised in 13 EU Member States. Far from slowing down, the criminalisation of solidarity with migrants in the EU is soaring.
Over the past couple of years, several states adopted increasingly restrictive legal frameworks for NGOs, while others are testing new criminalisation tactics. At the same time, proposed legislation at the EU level would hinder even more the work of individuals and NGOs defending the rights of migrants.
Increasingly, what we see is that all acts around the migration journey can be criminalised: from steering a boat which is going adrift, to rescuing people at sea, to providing essential services, information, a roof, assistance during the asylum procedure, denouncing human rights violations at borders, to helping people in return procedures. At the core of these trends, there is the criminalisation of migration itself – both in the language and narrative, and in the legal framework of several EU member states.
Click on the visual link to read the full chapter on the criminalisation of solidarity in the EU, which we contributed to the European Civic Forum’s 2021 Civic Space Watch Report.
Cover image: Mika Baumeister – Unsplash