A new discussion brief, entitled ‘Crackdown on NGOs assisting refugees and other migrants’ published by ReSOMA platform on 28 November sheds light on how EU laws, policies and operational priorities aiming to fight migrant smuggling have translated into policing civil society organisations and volunteers for providing assistance to refugees and migrants.
The discussion brief illustrates how policing humanitarianism has escalated across the EU - how cases of suspicion, intimidation, harassment and disciplining have often paved the way to formal criminalisation of civil society organisations and individual volunteers providing assistance to refugees and migrants. The discussion brief further analyses the impacts of these policies on fundamental rights, the rule of law, and the core structures of democracy.
After 2015, the European Agenda on Migration and European Security Agenda put the ‘fight against migrant smuggling’ among the top priorities for the EU institutions and Member States.
The Facilitators’ Package (comprising Facilitation Directive 2002/90 and Framework Decision 2002/946 ) is the main EU legislative instrument to tackle the crime of migrant smuggling. The Directive (Article 1 para. 2) leaves it up to the EU Member States whether to exempt or to criminalise civil society organisations and individuals who provide assistance to migrants and refugees who entered or transited a country irregularly.
The vagueness of definition of ‘what is not a crime’ in the EU has led to an increasing number of individuals experiencing policing while providing essential assistance to people in need.
The discussion brief is part of a series of 9 briefs published by ReSOMA on EU policy issues concerning migration, asylum and integration.
ReSOMA, the Research Social Platform on Migration and Asylum, is a partnership of European civil society and local authority organisations, think tanks and research networks aiming to provide a platform to exchange expertise and evidence based policies.
- Video interview with lawyers of currently arrested volunteers ‘The crackdown on NGOs assisting refugees & migrants’ Migration Policy Group (MPG)
- The discussion brief has benefited from the previous study commissioned by the European Parliament “Fit for purpose? The Facilitation Directive and Criminalisation of Humanitarian Assistance to Irregular Migrants” and its 2018 update.
- The analytical framing of ‘policing humanitarianism’ and some of the empiric findings have been drawn from the project “Anti-Smuggling Policies and their Intersection with Humanitarian Assistance and Social Trust”, mandated by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and coordinated by the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and PICUM in cooperation with Queen Mary University London (QMUL). The project culminated in a book “Policing Humanitarianism EU Policies Against Human Smuggling and their Impact on Civil Society”. The summary of key findings are also available here.
You can follow and share the discussion through #HelpIsNoCrime
Lina Vosyliūtė, Research Fellow at Rights and Security Programme, CEPSlina.firstname.lastname@example.org;
Carmine Conte, Legal Policy Analyst at MPG, email@example.com