Almost every day at Europe's external borders, people seeking protection are arbitrarily arrested for allegedly "aiding and abetting illegal entry" and as a result often end up in prison for years.
Their crime? They have, for example, steered the boat in which they were sitting together with other people, they have communicated with the coast guard to call for help, or they simply speak English. In the eyes of European border authorities this means that they are not people on the move, but smugglers. Thus, under the pretext of "combating smuggling", 1-2 people per arriving or rescued boat are arrested according to these criteria and arbitrarily accused of smuggling.
The focus of public attention is often the criminalization of European civil sea rescuers such as Carola Rackete. However, it is those seeking protection themselves who make up the majority of those who are confronted with the accusation of "aiding and abetting illegal entry".
In Greece alone, almost 2,000 people are currently in prison for this reason. They have been sentenced in some cases to almost 300 years in prison
and a fine of several million euros.
However, the fates of these people are hardly known. Arrested immediately upon arrival, most of them are locked away unnoticed, without their names known and no access to support from outside.
With our work, we fight to end criminalisation!
- In addition to direct support of individual cases, we fight at a political level for an end to this arbitrary application of anti-smuggling laws: we research and document cases, practices and developments, compile reports, analyses and information materials and organise public events and campaigns.