BRIEFING: EU should put an end to criminalisation of humanitarian assistance to migrants

Briefing paper published by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on 22/04/2022

In a briefing paper published today, the ICJ called on the European Union and its Member States to put an end to the criminalization of humanitarian assistance to migrants, by redefining the crime of smuggling of migrants to exclude humanitarian assistance, and by refraining from prosecuting those providing humanitarian assistance and other support.

The briefing paper, entitled ‘Crimininalization of humanitarian and other support and assistance to migrants and the defence of their human rights in the EU‘, emphasizes the need for reform across the European Union and its Member States, to allow for the provision of humanitarian assistance, unhindered by administrative and criminal proceedings.

The ICJ emphasized in its briefing paper that criminalization of humanitarian assistance has become widespread in the EU and its Member States. Prosecutions of those saving migrants at sea, or providing food, medical supplies, shelter and legal assistance to migrants, has an impact on those who seek to assist migrants, but also on the rights of migrants themselves, who are deprived of essential resources, vital support, and left without aid to avoid exploitation or access justice. Civil society’s solidarity to migrants is therefore highly beneficial to the realization of the human rights of migrants, and deterring associations and individuals from providing such assistance can have serious consequences.